College Readiness

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

All 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) testing 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 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 grades 11 and 12. 

  • 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 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 inform placement of 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 have agreed to consider Smarter Balanced test scores when deciding whether or not students need to take pre-college (remedial) courses. For more information on how the Independent Colleges of Washington and the state's public colleges and universities use Smarter Balanced test scores, please see the Resources box on this webpage.

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. These courses are relatively new and may not be offered yet at your high school. More information is on OSPI's Bridge to College Courses website.