NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: SEPTEMBER 3, 2010


The U.S. Department of Education yesterday awarded the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) a four-year, $160 million Race to the Top assessment grant to develop a student assessment system aligned with the Common Core State Standards. North Carolina is one of the 31 states nationwide participating in the SBAC and also a governing state, which allows decision-making participation.

State Superintendent June Atkinson was pleased with SBAC's receipt of the Race to the Top assessment grant. "Through this grant, we will have the opportunity to develop an innovative assessment system aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This system will help teachers to keep students on track to graduate college- and career-ready."

At its June meeting, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics as part of North Carolina's revised Standard Course of Study. The Common Core State Standards were released by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers to define the knowledge and skills students should have throughout their K-12 education careers. The goal is for students to graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers. The state's revised Standard Course of Study with the imbedded Common Core State Standards will be implemented in public school classrooms in the fall of 2012.

The SBAC will use grant funds to create adaptive online exams that will provide accurate assessment information to teachers and others on the progress of all students, including those with disabilities, English language learners and low- and high-performing students. The system will include:

  • summative exams offered twice each school year;
  • optional formative, or benchmark exams; and
  • a variety of tools, processes and practices for teachers to use in planning and implementing informal, ongoing assessment.

Administrators can use student test scores to improve educator accountability and to help identify professional development needs of teachers and principals.

The SBAC tests will measure the full range of the Common Core standards in grades 3-8 and 11, including assessing problem solving and complex thinking skills. Teachers will be involved at all stages of item and test development, including writing, scoring and the design of reporting systems. Educators also will be able to access a reporting system that identifies each student's strengths, weaknesses and progress toward college- and career-readiness.

"This is an exciting time for public education. We are looking forward to working with other states to share our vision for clear and rigorous standards," Atkinson said.

For more information about the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, please visit For more information about the Common Core State Standards, please visit For more information on North Carolina's participation in both efforts, please contact the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.