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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Washington State School Report Card?

The Washington State School Report Card provides parents, educators, policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders in Washington State with information about K-12 public schools. It includes demographic information about students at the school, district and state levels, and data about student achievement on state-wide assessment. It also provides information about teachers, administrators, and other school staff.

Why the report cards?

The state of Washington releases this information so citizens can see how well public schools are performing and can make better judgments about how they can get involved in their communities to help all children succeed in the classroom. While state and federal laws require us to provide this information, we also think it is valuable information for the public.

What test results are on the report card?

Washington displays results for the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) for grades 3-HS, the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) for science grades 5 & 8, and the End of Course (EOC) Biology exam for HS.

Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA)
Summative assessments determine students’ progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts/literacy and math. These are given at the end of the school year and consist of two parts: a computer adaptive test and a performance task.

Measurements of Student Progress (MSP)
The name of the MSP conveys the goal of the test: to measure student progress. From 2010 through 2014, the MSP was given to students in grades 3-8 in Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science. Since 2015, the MSP is used for the Science test given to students in grades 5 and 8.

Biology End of Course Exam (EOC)
This test measures the proficiency of students in Biology and is used to fulfill assessment graduation requirements for the Class of 2017 and beyond.

High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE)
This test measured the proficiency of high school students in Reading, Writing, and Science from 2010 until being replaced by the Biology EOC in 2012 and SBA in 2015.

What is WA-AIM?

The Washington Access to Instruction & Measurement (WA-AIM) is an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards aligned to the Common Core State Standards for students with significant cognitive challenges. It is designed for and administered to students with disabilities who, even with accommodation, would not be able to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the Science MSP, or the Biology EOC. More information can be found online at

What do these tests actually measure?

The tests are carefully designed to measure students’ progress in meeting critical learning objectives identified in the Washington State K-12 Learning Standards for each content area. These academic standards specify what all students should know and be able to do by graduation. Student progress toward these learning goals is measured by these tests, as well as by a variety of other classroom assessments. Further information about the knowledge, skills, and processes that students demonstrate on these test is available in the Achievement Level Descriptors.

Has Washington always used these tests?

The Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) replaced the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE), the Math End of Course exams (EOC), and the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) Reading and Writing in 2015.


The Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) replaced the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in 2010. The WASL was the state assessment from spring 1997 to summer 2009.

Why is testing important?

Statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, receive a quality education. Washington students are annually tested by the state to assess their progress in learning the knowledge and skills they need for college and career success as they move through elementary, middle, and high school. In high school, students are tested on their proficiency of basic skills and must pass specific assessments to be eligible to graduate.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is responsible for implementing State legislation that requires the development, selection, and administration of all state assessments. OSPI also reports achievement data for students, schools, districts, and the state. This information assists districts and schools in refining instructional practices and curriculum and gives families valuable information about how well their child is doing and where additional help might be needed.

What other state-administered tests do students take?
Second Grade Fluency and Accuracy Assessment: Every student is assessed at the beginning of second grade using a grade-level equivalent oral reading passage.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): NAEP is a national assessment that allows educational achievement to be compared across states. Federal law requires every state to give the NAEP in reading and math at grades 4 and 8 every two years. States and school districts that receive Title I federal funding to aid educationally disadvantaged students in high poverty areas must participate in these assessments. Other subjects also are tested.

Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA): WELPA placement test assesses the reading, writing, listening, and speaking knowledge and skills of students whose families answer "yes" to questions #2 or #3 on the Home Language Survey. The WELPA placement test is used to determine student eligibility for English language development (ELD) services.

English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21): ELPA21 is a new assessment that measures the reading, writing, listening, and speaking knowledge and skills of students whose families answer "yes" to questions #2 or #3 on the Home Language Survey. When fully implemented, it will consist of a "screener" test to identify students who qualify for English language development (ELD) services, as well as a "summative" test administered yearly to students who receive ELD services. In the 2015-16 school year, the ELPA21 summative test will be used to measure the language skills of students already receiving services, but the state will continue to use the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA) as the screener test to determine student eligibility for ELD services.

Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Skills (WaKIDS): This program helps bring families, teachers, and early learning providers together to support each child's learning and transition into public schools. 

OSPI-Developed Assessments (formerly CBAs) and OSPI-Developed Performance Assessments (formerly CBPAs): The state develops classroom-based assessments based on the state's learning standards to help guide day-to-day instruction. State curriculum specialists create tasks and questions that model good assessments and provide them to local school districts.

What was Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)?

As required by The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation (2001 ESEA Reauthorization), Washington state developed a statewide accountability to measure whether schools, school districts and the state as a whole had made Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and mathematics achievement. The system was designed to ensure that:

1.  All public school students in grades 3-8 and 10 are included in the state assessment system;

2.  At least 95% of the students enrolled in the tested grades participate in assessment;

3.  All student groups reach the states proficiency levels in reading and mathematics by 2013-14;

4.  Schools and districts that did not meet the state’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements were identified as needing improvement.

Adequate Yearly Progress was based on students attaining a target level of achievement in reading and math, and disaggregating student scores into nine subgroups for each school and district. A minimum number of continuously enrolled students per subgroup had been set for reliable AYP determination. (For more information, please see

AYP results were reported for each of 9 student groups: All students, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, White, Special Education, Bilingual, and Low Income students. Results were reported for Proficiency, the percent of students who met standard, Participation rate, the percent of students who were assessed, and an Other Indicator.

NCLB specified a participation rate of 95% in the state assessment. NCLB also required each state to use an "other indicator". The Other Indicator was the unexcused absence rate at the elementary, middle-school and junior-high school grade levels, and the extended graduation rate at the high school level (this is the "on-time" rate plus the students who get a diploma after their expected year of graduation). When a high school was not authorized to graduate students, the annual dropout rate was used (noted in italics).

For more information on AYP, please see

Why are SBA/MSP (and formerly HSPE) results and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) proficiency results not the same?

SBA/MSP and AYP proficiency results may have been different for the following reasons:

·      Continuously Enrolled - AYP results include only students who have been continuously enrolled from October 1 through the test administration; SBA/MSP/HSPE results include all students tested, regardless of when they enrolled.

·      Margin of Error - AYP results are adjusted upward with this confidence interval (a margin of error); SBA/MSP/HSPE results are not adjusted in this way.

·      Reporting Counts - AYP results are generated for any group of students that has a designated number of continuously enrolled students (30); SBA/MSP/HSPE results are generated for groups that have at least 10 students, regardless of how long they have been enrolled.

What will replace AYP?
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on December 10, 2015, as the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESSA will be fully operational in school year 2017-18. To monitor progress on ESSA and the corresponding accountability system, please see

What is Compare My School (My District)?

The Compare My School (or My District) tool generates a list of at least 10 schools (or districts) with characteristics similar to those of the comparison school (or district). It is important to remember the comparisons made using this tool are based solely on an individual criterion and should not be used to rank schools (or districts). Instead, the intent is to help identify similar schools (or districts) that may be using successful strategies to overcome gaps in achievement and to encourage the sharing of best practices among schools and districts. There are many complex factors that influence student and school (or district) performance, all of which should be considered when analyzing a schools (or districts) overall performance.

Who can answer my questions about the information in the report card?

Your child’s school is your best resource. Contact the principal or staff.

Do schools and districts have access to these data through alternate means?
OSPI and vendors offer a variety of tools that provide school and district staff with actionable information, securely and on earlier timelines.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about state testing, visit or click on the links below. For questions, write to

·      FAQ

·      Federal ESSA requirements

·      Staff data

·      Graduation/dropout reports

·      State Testing and Graduation Requirements Bottom of Form