Frequently Asked Questions PDF Print


  • Print On Demand is an Accommodation for students with a documented disability in an IEP or 504. Print On Demand is a non-embedded accommodation consisting of paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items are printed for students. For those students needing a paper copy of a passage or stimulus, permission for the students to request printing must first be set in TIDE. For those students needing a paper copy of the test, the help desk must be contacted by the school or district coordinator to place an order for the student. A very small percentage of students should need this accommodation.

  • This is a non-embedded Accommodation dictated by an IEP or 504. Voice recognition allows students to use their voices as input devices to the computer, to dictate responses or give commands (e.g., opening application programs, pulling down menus, and saving work). Voice recognition software generally can recognize speech up to 160 words per minute. Students may use their own assistive technology devices. Students who have motor or processing disabilities (such as dyslexia) or who have had a recent injury (such as a broken hand or arm) that make it difficult to produce text or commands using computer keys may need alternative ways to work with computers. Students will need to be familiar with the software, and have had many opportunities to use it prior to testing. Speech-to-text software requires that the student go back through all generated text to correct errors in transcription, including use of writing conventions; thus, prior experience with this accommodation is essential. If students use their own assistive technology devices, all assessment content should be deleted from these devices after the test for security purposes. For many of these students, using voice recognition software is the only way to demonstrate their composition skills. Still, use of speech-to-text does require that students know writing conventions and that they have the review and editing skills required of students who enter text via the computer keyboard. It is important that students who use speech-to-text also be able to develop planning notes via speech-to-text, and to view what they produce while composing via speech-to-text.

  • Yes, you will find them on the .xlxs or .csv format called StudentSettingsTemplate that can be downloaded in TIDE.

  • Universal tools are access features of the assessment that are either provided as digitally- delivered components of the test administration system or separate from it. Universal tools are available to all students based on student preference and selection. The Smarter Balanced digitally- delivered assessments include a wide array of embedded universal tools. These are available to all students as part of the technology platform. Some universal tools may need to be provided outside of the computer test administration system (non-embedded).

    Designated supports for the Smarter Balanced assessments are those features that are available for use by any student for whom the need has been indicated by an educator (or team of educators with parent/guardian and student). Designated supports need to be identified prior to assessment administration. Embedded and non- embedded supports must be entered into the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). Any non- embedded designated supports must be acquired prior to testing.

    Accommodations are changes in procedures or materials that increase equitable access during the Smarter Balanced assessments. Assessment accommodations generate valid assessment results for students who need them; they allow these students to show what they know and can do. Smarter Balanced states have identified digitally-embedded and non-embedded accommodations for students for whom there is documentation of the need for the accommodations on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 accommodation plan. Determination of which accommodations an individual student will have available for the assessment is necessary because these accommodations must be made available before the assessment, either by entering information into the TIDE, for embedded accommodations, or by ensuring that the materials or setting are available for the assessment for non-embedded accommodations.

    PLEASE NOTE: Any adjustments to the default of regular test Universal Tools (if you’re going to the next level of Designated Supports or Accommodations) must be entered into the TIDE system ahead of signing in for the test. A Teacher/Test Administrator (TA) will not have the credentials to change settings in TIDE – this needs to be done by a School Test Coordinator (SC), District Test Coordinator (DC) or District Administrator (DA) so it should be done ahead of time.

  • Not for the training and practice test, but accommodations need to be set prior to a student taking the Interim assessments.

  • Any time prior to student testing in the administration of an Interim and/or Summative Assessment.

  • The DA, DC or SC.

  • No. This is done by either a DA, DC or SC user role.

AIR Test Delivery Systems

General Information

  • Calculators are not available at grades 3 through 5. For grades 6 through 11, the calculator will vary by grade as follows: Grade 6 – Basic Calculators Grades 7 and 8 – Scientific Calculators Grades 9 through 11 – Scientific, Graphic and Regression Calculators

  • This portal acts as the gateway to all your assessment systems. The portal provides links and resources to help students and educators take full advantage of American Institutes for Research (AIR) assessment systems.

Interim Tests

Paper-Pencil Tests

  • Please see the Assessment Sequence Tables for recommended timeframes.

  • Paper tests will be scored in late April and May, and then go through the normal process of data cleanup and validation. The student results will appear in the system once the results data from scoring has been loaded. We expect this to happen in late May – early June. A more specific date will be provided in April.

  • Your students’ individual score reports will be available for download from the Online Reporting System. In addition, a paper copy of the report will be mailed to you when testing is complete and all results data has been validated by the Department of Public Instruction. The exact date is not yet determined.

  • The Special Handling envelope is to be used for materials in which there is a situation that you are unsure of how to resolve or if there are any issues with the documents. Contact the NDSA Service Center (1-800-929-3757) with any questions.

  • Yes. Please use the Return of Scratch Paper envelope to return these materials. You should have received an appropriate amount of these envelopes to correspond with the size of your order. If you didn’t receive one or need more, please follow the same procedure for placing an additional materials order.

  • If your school has a regularly scheduled UPS pickup, you may return your testing materials during this regularly occurring pickup.

    If you need to schedule a UPS pickup, contact the NDSA Service Center (1-800-929-3757). Requests made after 11:00am Central Time will require the pickup to be made the second business day after the request is received. Be prepared to provide the following information:
    a. Tracking number on one of your UPS Return Service Label(s)
    b. Contact name and phone number
    c. Pickup date and location (school or building address)
    d. Total number of boxes being returned

    1. Test materials are secure and therefore all materials need to be shipped back to Measured Progress within three days after your school completes testing. Once your materials are ready to be returned, schedule a UPS pickup to ship them. Your pickup should be scheduled no later than April 18.
    2. Used answer documents need to be placed in the Return of Used Answer Documents envelope.
    3. Scratch paper needs to be placed in the Return of Scratch Paper Envelope.
    4. For documents with issues (such as damage, mislabeling, swapped between students, etc.), use the Special Handling envelope.
    5.  All other test materials should be repacked in their original boxes.
  • You may scan and email your completed PCPA to the NDSA Service Center, or you may return a signed copy with your return test materials shipment.

  • A copy of the PCPA form was included in your shipment of paper pencil materials. A PDF version is available for download on the NDSA Portal resources.

  • Instructions for completing the PCPA are located on the form. It is important that all the necessary information is entered in the appropriate area. All accurate counts must be entered in the boxes indicated.

    You will also be required to enter the start date for your school’s test administration. The form must then be signed by an appropriate representative from your school. Please make a copy of all completed forms to keep for your records and to send to your district test coordinator, as required.

    This form must be completed after testing has finished but before UPS comes to pick up your materials.

  • The PCPA is a document that is used to verify test security. Measured Progress must receive one PCPA for each grade testing at each school to verify the quantity of used answer documents and test booklets returned.

  • The shipping memo has been posted and made available for download on the NDSA portal at: under Smarter Balanced Information Summative Assessment within the Resources tab.

  • If your order is an additional materials order or if your order was placed after the ordering window closed on February 12, then you will not be receiving student labels. Your students will need to bubble in their demographic information on the back of the answer document.

  • Contact the NDSA Service Center by phone at 1-800-929-3757 or by email at A representative will direct your inquiry to the appropriate agent.

  • The Test Administration Material for the Smarter Balanced paper-pencil assessment contains test content as part of the proctor scripts. Therefore, the TAMs are secure and cannot be posted to the portal.

    One set of TAMs per grade was shipped with your paper-pencil order and one additional set of TAMs was shipped for every 25 students in any particular grade.

    If you need additional copies of the TAM, please follow the same procedure used for placing an additional materials order.

  • You will need to place an additional materials order by contacting the NDSA Service Center by phone at 1-800-929-3757 or by email at A representative will direct your inquiry to the appropriate agent. Have your district and school information, as well as the exact materials you need, ready when you call.

  • Classroom activities are optional this year. DPI has opted to make classroom activities available to any school that
    would wish to use them for instructional purposes only.

  • Yes. All students must be entered into TIDE regardless of which mode of testing they are participating in.

  • There will be no retesting.

    Makeup testing is permitted providing the makeup testing takes place within the established testing window.

  • The paper testing administration window begins March 15, 2016 (allowing a week to receive and organize materials and a week for makeup testing) and will end April 15, 2016.

  • Test Administration Window 3/15/16—4/15/16
    PCPA 3/18/16—4/18/16
    Additional Material Window 3/8/16—4/12/16
    UPS One‐Day Pickup Window 04/18/16

Performance Tasks

  • The assessments are comprised of two components (tests) for ELA and mathematics: a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and a Performance Task (PT) also given on the computer. Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the CAT and PT items on separate days. For each content area, Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the CAT items, followed by the PT. Districts/Schools may opt to administer in a different order if needed. In order to receive a score for an ELA or Math summative test, both the CAT and PT must be completed within each respective content area.

  • No.

  • The ELA PT consists of two parts. It is recommended that each part be administered on separate days corresponding with the segment. In part 1 students will read sources and answer three research questions. During part 2 (the full write), students will provide a written response using those sources. Only in part 2 of the ELA PT may students have access to a hard-copy (non- embedded universal tool) or online dictionary or online thesaurus (embedded universal tools). The Mathematics PT is administered in one session.

Practice and Summative Tests

Roles for Test Administration