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Smarter Annotated Response Tool (Writing)

Smarter Annotated Responce Tool

The Smarter Annotated Response Tool (SmART) helps educators understand how student writing is scored on Smarter Balanced assessments. Educators can use SmART to explore how different student responses are scored across the grade levels and writing purposes to understand deeply into how the rubrics are applied. Educators can use SmART to understand the knowledge and skills expected for the writing traits and where students need additional support. Additionally, educators can use this tool to understand grade-level expectations for student responses at each of the points identified by the rubric. 

SmART allows educators to: 

  • browse a range of student responses in response to different writing purposes
  • dive deeper into annotations describing why a given student response warrants the score point
  • better understand student scores, score student work, and practice implementing the scoring rubrics
  • learn about terminology used to describe scoring student written responses on Smarter Balanced assessments
  • use practice test responses to help determine instructional next steps


What is Annotated Student Work?

Annotated student work provides educators with examples of how student work is scored according to the Smarter Balanced rubrics. The annotations describe how elements of student responses demonstrate the characteristics of the rubric at various score points.

What kind of information can I find in the SmART?

The Smarter Annotated Response Tool (SmART) includes information about how student work is scored using the rubrics in the Smarter Balanced assessments. The SmART provides a wide variety of student responses that demonstrate the spectrum of score points and approaches to responding to the different types of writing assessed.

In addition to student responses, the SmART describes essential terms and elements of the Smarter Balanced assessment related to scoring students’ written responses. There are links to the publicly available items and content aspects such as the Claims, Targets and Standards.

How can I use SmART to support my teaching?

Educators can use the SmART to:

  • Understand on- grade expectations for student responses at each of the score points identified by the rubric
  • Understand how student responses may be classified as a condition code (off-purpose, off-topic, insufficient) that results in the response not being assigned a score
  • Practice scoring student responses by accessing unannotated responses in the tool, scoring those responses independently and comparing the scores to the annotated responses in the tool
  • Work with my PLC or other learning group to dive into elements of writing and how they relate to planning instructional activities including but not limited to progressions of writing within and across grades

What score point is considered 'passing'?

The rubrics used on the Smarter Balanced assessments do not have categorizations of “passing”. The SmART shows how the rubrics are applied to student responses across the score points. These scores are then integrated with student performance on other questions in the test to arrive at a total score.

Does a response have to match every single piece of bulleted criteria to be given a particular score point?

No. A score is derived by looking at how closely the response matches multiple bullet points for a particular skill. For example, an essay may be deficient in using a variety of transitions, but strengths in other areas of the paper’s Organization/Purpose (e.g., a strong progression of ideas and a solid introduction and conclusion) could justify an overall score of a 3 or 4 in this dimension of the rubric. Not every bullet within a score point needs to apply, and some criteria is more critical than others.

Additional professional learning resources for the Smarter Annotated Response Tool and more tools that make up the Smarter Balanced “ecosystem” can be accessed from the Tools for Teachers website (account required). Site staff can obtain an account either through self-registration or through their LEA CAASPP/ELPAC coordinator.


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What do Writing Tasks Measure?

Writing tasks challenge students to demonstrate critical thinking skills. In each task, students examine sources on a topic and write a response based on a specific purpose described in state academic standards. 

  • Narrative: tell a story
  • Informational: present facts or data using source material
  • Explanatory: explain a topic or concept by analyzing source materials
  • Opinion: present and defend a position
  • Argumentative: present an argument using research to form and support claims

Purposes have subtle differences depending on grade, and each writing purpose has its own scoring rubric.

Writing tasks help educators measure students' ability to write effectively for each purpose, using source material as appropriate, and to demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English.

Student responses are scored on three traits:

  • Organization & Purpose
  • Evidence & Elaboration
  • Conventions

Scoring rubrics for each trait establish the possible points a student can earn on the task. Each trait is graded separately.