At the heart of the plan, to be shared by all the participating states, student will complete four performance "tasks" or "events" during the last twelve weeks of the school year: one each in reading and writing, with a combination of machine and teacher scoring. According to the ETS summary:
Each task/event will require 1 to 2 class periods and will involve student-initiated planning, management of information and ideas, interaction with other materials and/or people, and production of an extended response such as an oral presentation, exhibit, product development, or an extended written piece.States will also have the option of using "interim/benchmark" assessments that are computer adaptive, meaning that students first answers are used to adjust the difficulty of the later questions each student answers. There will be local flexibility about when those are given.
Finally, there will be an optional end of year assessment, also using a computer adaptive approach, with 40 to 65 questions per subject. That assessment "will include selected response, constructed response, and technology-enhanced items," and "A combination of immediate scoring by computer and teacher scoring using a distributed, moderated online scoring system will be used, and results will be returned within 2 weeks."
This approach is also an option for Kentucky, which currently is participating in both multi-state planning groups.
Smarter Balanced has major plans for formative assessments and classroom supports, as does PARCC, so these accountability elements are only part of the total designs.
The ETS summaries well-worth downloading, and suitable for with many audiences of educators, parents, and citizens. Click here for the Smarter Balanced summary (or here for PARCC).