The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) designed end of year exams in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics that are linked to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
These tests are administered to students in SBAC member states in grades 3-8 and again in grade 11. Like the Common Core State Standards, these tests are rigorous and measure higher order thinking skills.
To help you and your 4th grader prepare, we’re providing a SBAC practice test, in addition to all of the information, tips, and sample questions you need. Let’s get started!
First click the button below to get a 4th grade SBAC practice test. Along with this test, you will also receive a bonus PDF "5 Top Tips to Use Practice Tests Effectively" to help your child study for the test.
SBAC 4th Grade Basics
As we mentioned above, the SBAC exams are tied to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of skills and knowledge that students should master by the end of each grade level.
CCSS focuses on critical thinking, analysis, reasoning, and evidence-based writing, so your child will see all of these elements on the SBAC.
SBAC exams consist of two parts: a computer adaptive test and a Performance Task. The computer adaptive test adapts to the test-taker’s skill level, asking more challenging questions if the student is performing well and easier questions if the student is performing poorly.
This allows for a more precise score and more accurate information about student strengths and weaknesses.
Performance Tasks last for about 45 minutes and require students to apply 4th grade level skills and knowledge to complex real-world problems that require critical thinking and problem-solving.
To accurately assess the complex skills outlined in the CCSS, there are several question types on SBAC exams:
To ensure that time constraints are not a factor in student scores, SBAC tests are untimed. However, it’s estimated that 4th grade students will spend about 2 hours and 30 minutes on the mathematics test and 3 hours and 30 minutes on the ELA test.
SBAC Practice Tests 4th Grade- English Language Arts
On the English Language Arts exam, 4th grade students are expected to “demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts and literacy.”
Since this is an extremely broad statement, SBAC ELA also has four specific content claims:
Below, we’ll explain exactly what is expected of 4th grade students in each of these four areas.
Students read both informational and literary texts and answer questions that demonstrate their ability to comprehend and analyze these passages.
Fourth grade students may be expected to compare, integrate, and analyze information from multiple texts.
Reading comprehension questions may ask students to demonstrate the following skills:
Common Core standards heavily emphasize the ability to support claims with evidence, so your child will encounter many questions that require citing evidence from the text.
These questions may be constructed response questions asking your child to provide details in support of an answer, non-traditional response items requiring your child to click on or highlight key evidence, or—most often-- selected response items with two parts.
As in the example below, Part A will ask your child a standard multiple choice question, while Part B will require your child to find the best evidence to support this answer.
Three main writing skills are assessed on the SBAC ELA test: revising, editing, and composing. Texts may be narrative, informational, or persuasive.
These skills are assessed using a variety of methods, including selected response questions. Some of these questions are standalone questions, like the following example:
Others are linked to short passages, as in the examples below:
Writing skills are also assessed through brief writes.
Although this example is informational, students may also be asked to write narrative brief writes such as dialogue, alternate endings or beginnings, etc.
Lastly, students must complete a Performance Task, which involves reading sources, taking purposeful notes, and then writing and revising a response to a related topic.
These tasks are scored based on focus/purpose, evidence/elaboration, and conventions.
Below are the directions for a sample 4th grade Performance Task:
Following these directions, students are provided with three sources. After reading and taking notes on the sources, students answer three research-based questions and write an informational article based on the information provided.
Speaking and Listening
For these questions, students listen to a variety of one-minute informational texts and respond to listening comprehension questions, which are very similar in content to the reading comprehension questions.
For example, the following two-part question is based on an audio presentation entitled “A Human Wall for Baby Turtles.”
As students listen to the audio, they may rewind or pause to take notes as needed.
Research skills are assessed through questions about selecting relevant sources, taking notes, determining the credibility of sources, avoiding plagiarism, and paraphrasing texts.
The Performance Task described in the Writing section is used to measure research skills as well.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the unique and rigorous nature of these questions, remember that there are free Smarter Balanced practice tests 4th grade available. You and your child can use these resources to build familiarity and confidence with test content.
SBAC Practice Tests 4th Grade- Mathematics
On SBAC Mathematics, fourth grade students should “demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in mathematics.”
More specifically, the four content claims are:
How exactly are these four skills assessed? Let’s take a look.
Concepts and Procedures
Fourth grade students are expected to demonstrate the following skills:
Students at all levels are expected to demonstrate fluency in computation, specify units of measure, express answers with precision, and explain and justify their reasoning.
Fourth grade students should be able to apply grade-level appropriate mathematics to complex real world situations.
They must be able to strategically select and use tools as they solve problems, and they need the ability to interpret results in context. It’s also important for students to be able to identify key information in a practical situation and map the relationship using diagrams, graphs, formulas, etc.
Your child should be able to explain his reasoning, construct examples to evaluate a proposition or conjecture, and identify flaws in arguments or logic.
Students may be asked to critique, prove, justify, or investigate mathematical conjectures and logic and complete longer “investigations.”
Modeling and Data Analysis
These questions are typically associated with a Performance Task, and they require students to apply math concepts to real world issues at a deeper level of understanding.
Students may be asked to develop mathematical models of their own or to improve upon provided models. Students may also need to make reasoned estimates and plan, design, evaluate, and recommend tasks.
For example, a sample 4th grade Performance Task is based on the following information:
Questions include the following, in addition to the Reasoning question that appears above:
Like the ELA assessment, the math test is considered challenging. However, the Smarter Balanced practice tests 4th grade can again be a useful tool in helping your child prepare effectively.
How to Ace the SBAC
The two keys to acing the SBAC are paying attention in class throughout the year and using practice tests to prepare.
Paying attention in class is always important, but it’s a crucial step in preparing for the SBAC because test questions are directly linked to the Common Core State Standards, which shapes the curriculum of your child’s teachers.
In Math and English Language Arts classes in particular, encourage your child to take notes, complete all classwork and homework, and ask for help if needed.
The second key step is to use SBAC practice tests 4th grade to help your child build familiarity and confidence with these challenging question types prior to the test.
Discuss right and wrong answers with your child to ensure she understands how to arrive at the correct answer. If she struggles with a particular question type, begin focusing your practice sessions on this area.
If you utilize the tips and information here, plus the SBAC practice tests 4th grade, your child has a great shot at conquering these rigorous assessments.