College Readiness

Smarter Balanced tests measure student progress on Washington's career and college learning standards. 

Smarter Balanced Chart Your Path GraphicAll Washington students take Smarter Balanced math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests in grades three through eight and in high school. All students took Smarter Balanced tests statewide for the first time in 2015. These tests replaced some pre-existing state assessments. More information about the tests is available on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction's (OSPI) website

High school test scores are used for postsecondary planning. 

High school students can use their Smarter Balanced test scores to guide them in preparing for college or career training. Educators use Smarter Balanced test scores to ensure students have the support they need during their last year of high school to be successful in their postsecondary pathway of choice. Students can use their Smarter Balanced test scores to help them decide which courses to take in their 12th grade year. 

  • Level 3 or 4: Students are prepared and on track for college. Students should be encouraged to enroll in dual credit or the next most rigorous advanced course offered by their high school.
  • Level 2: Students are not quite on track for college. Students should be encouraged to enroll in a Bridge to College course; or another senior year course in math or English Language Arts designed to give students an intense, year-long learning experience that leads to college readiness. 
  • Level 1: Students are not yet on track for college. They will need additional, personalized support in high school do develop their postsecondary pathway. Students may need to take pre-college (remedial) courses when they enter college. 

Colleges use high school test scores to place students in college-level courses. 

Over 200 colleges are using Smarter Balanced test scores as evidence that students are ready for college-level work. All 34 of Washington's public community and technical colleges, all six public baccalaureate institutions, and nine private independent colleges have agreed to consider Smarter Balanced test scores when deciding whether or not students need to take pre-college (remedial) courses. High school graduates who meet the following requirements can skip pre-college (remedial) courses and place directly into entry-level college courses.

  • Score a three or four on the high school Smarter Balanced test. Note: the community and technical colleges have extended this agreement to students who enroll in dual-credit courses as high school seniors.
  • Take appropriate senior-year English and quantitative (math) coursework.
  • Enroll in college in the academic year immediately following high school graduation.  

Additional placement testing may be necessary to enroll in higher-level college courses.   

Bridge courses create more opportunities for students who score at a level two. 

Many high schools are offering Bridge to College courses in math and English Language Arts. These are one-year intensive courses designed to get students college- and career-ready by the time they graduate from high school. High school graduates who meet the following requirements can still skip pre-college (remedial) courses and place directly into entry-level college courses at all 34 of Washington's public and community technical colleges.

  • Score a level two on the Smarter Balanced test. 
  • Complete a Bridge to College course with a "B" grade or better. 

These courses are new and may not be offered yet at your high school. A list of participating high schools is on OSPI's website.