Achievement Level Descriptors

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Achievement level descriptors (ALDs) describe the knowledge, skills, and processes that students demonstrate on state tests at pre-determined levels of achievement for each tested grade level.

Smarter Balanced Assessments

Washington (WA) uses the math and English language arts (ELA) Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAs) for its state summative tests. Student performance on the SBA is divided into four levels. Each level functions as an estimate of students’ performance on some of the skills and knowledge in the WA state learning standards. Reporting Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) describe the possible meaning of scores that fall within each level.

When using Reporting ALDs to interpret students’ scores, it is important to remember that factors unrelated to students’ knowledge or skills may affect their scores. In addition, SBA scores need to be considered alongside other assessments and descriptions of learning to capture a student’s academic achievement more completely. SBA scores should never be used to define students’ potential or capabilities or to deny educational opportunities.

For more information about scaled scores and how Smarter Balanced (SB) created different types of ALDs, see the Smarter Balanced Reporting Scores webpage.

Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

The WCAS is administered to students in grades 5, 8, and 11. The WCAS ALDs were developed by science educators (classroom teachers, instructional coaches, curriculum specialists, science consultants) from across Washington. The ALDs are derived from the Washington State 2013 K–12 Science Learning Standards which are the Next Generation Science Standards.

The WCAS ALDs are intended to describe the performance exhibited by students at Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4 on the state science assessment. ALDs can enhance understanding of a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses and guide educators in planning.