The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a consortium of 15 states, one territory, and the Bureau of Indian Education. SBAC members collaborate on developing and improving assessments that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
SBAC member states assess students in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades 3-8 and again in grade 11.
This means that your third grader will be taking SBAC tests for the first time this year. But don’t worry—we’re providing you with plenty of information, tips, sample questions, and a link to an SBAC practice test for your 3rd grader.
We hope that this information can help you and your child approach SBAC testing season with confidence. Let’s get started!
First click the button below to get a 3rd 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.
What is Common Core?
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of skills and knowledge that students should master by the end of each grade level.
These skills are rigorous and focus on higher level, analytical thinking and reasoning. However, public school teachers in SBAC member states teach CCSS throughout the school year. This means that the information on the SBAC should be directly linked to the information your child learns throughout the year.
SBAC 3rd Grade Basics
Smarter Balanced tests consist of two main components: a computer adaptive test and a Performance Task.
The computer adaptive test adjusts to the individual student’s skill level. Questions become more difficult if a student is answering correctly and less difficult if a student is struggling. This allows for a more accurate score and improved information about student strengths and weaknesses.
Performance Tasks take about 45 minutes to complete and require students to apply third grade level skills and knowledge, as well as critical thinking and problem solving, to respond to complex real-world problems.
Due to the complexity of the Common Core standards, the SBAC is not your typical multiple choice test. Question types include:
To prevent time constraints from negatively impacting student scores, SBAC tests are untimed.
For third grade students, it’s estimated that SBAC English Language Arts (ELA) will take 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, while SBAC Mathematics should take about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
SBAC Practice Test 3rd Grade-English Language Arts
Each Smarter Balanced assessment has an overall content claim, which describes what skills students must possess in order to perform successfully on the test.
For ELA 3rd grade, the overall content claim is, “Students will demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts and literacy.”
Of course, that’s a very broad statement, so SBAC ELA contains four more specific content claims as well:
Below, we’ll discuss how the SBAC ELA exam measures these four skills for third graders, as well as providing sample questions for each content claim.
To demonstrate Reading skills, students must read and answer questions on both nonfiction and literary texts that are on a third grade level.
Students may also need to compare, integrate, and analyze information from multiple texts.
Reading comprehension questions may relate to the following topics:
One major emphasis in the ELA Common Core standards is on providing evidence to support claims. For this reason, many questions will require your child to cite evidence from the text.
This may include providing evidence in a constructed response answer, highlighting or clicking evidence from the text for a non-traditional response item, or answering two-part selected response items.
These two part selected response items require students to answer a standard multiple choice question for Part A, and then to select the best piece of evidence in support of this answer for Part B.
In some cases, students may be asked to select multiple correct responses for a question.
SBAC ELA assesses writing skills including revising, editing, and composing a variety of informational and literary text types (narrative, informational/explanatory, and opinion/persuasive). Texts may be short or long.
These skills are assessed with multiple choice questions, brief writes, and a Performance Task.
The following is a 3rd grade multiple choice question assessing revision skills:
Students are also required to answer editing questions related to spelling, grammar, and word usage, as in these examples:
Brief writes may be narrative, informational, or opinion based as in the example below:
The Performance Task is scored based on focus/purpose, evidence/elaboration, and conventions . The task involves reading sources, taking purposeful notes, and then writing and revising a response to a given topic.
Here’s a sample prompt for a 3rd grade Performance Task:
The prompt is then followed by sources that students will read and take notes on. They will use these notes to answer questions related to the sources and produce a written response incorporating information from the provided sources.
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 on the Northern lights.
Students are able to rewind the audio or pause to take notes as needed.
Students answer questions related to selecting relevant evidence to support ideas, choosing credible sources, paraphrasing texts, and avoiding plagiarism.
The Performance Task described in the Writing portion above is evaluated as a Research/Inquiry task as well.
These are unique question types, and test content is certainly rigorous. Keep in mind that your child can effectively prepare using the Smarter Balanced practice test 3rd grade.
SBAC Practice Test 3rd Grade- Mathematics
Similar to the content claim for SBAC ELA, the content claim for SBAC Mathematics 3rd grade is, “Students can demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in mathematics.”
The four specific content claims are:
Let’s take a look at exactly how these four areas of knowledge are measured.
3rd grade students must be able to demonstrate the following skills:
They should also be able to demonstrate fluency in computation, specify units of measure, express answers with precision, and explain and justify their reasoning.
For these questions, students are expected to be able to apply math to real world situations.
Students should be able to identify the key information in a practical situation and map relationships using diagrams and other tools.
Students must be able to explain their reasoning, and they should also be able to recognize flaws in reasoning or logic.
They may be required to critique, prove, justify, or investigate mathematical conjectures and logic and complete longer “investigations.”
These questions require students to apply math to real world situations at a deeper level of understanding, and they are typically associated with a Performance Task.
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.
Below are various items from an extended Performance Task, which required students to reference the following bar graph:
Students then completed a variety of associated tasks, including the following:
Like the ELA SBAC test, the Mathematics test is challenging. Again, Smarter Balanced practice tests 3rd grade can help your child become familiar and skillful with test content.
Here are some quick tips for successful SBAC preparation:
With the right amount of practice and preparation, your child should master 3rd grade skills and ace the SBAC!