Mathematics Benchmark Assessments (MBAs)
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  Student and School Success

Mathematics Benchmark Assessments (MBAs)

The OSPI Mathematics Benchmark Assessments (MBAs) are standards-based interim assessments developed for Grades K-8 and Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra II. Administered in fall, winter, and spring, MBAs provide ongoing information about teaching and learning in relation to Common Core State Standards in mathematics. MBAs are entering their 5th year of implementation; they are currently used in 68 districts serving over 180,000 students.

MBAs provide a bridge between classroom formative assessments and end-of-year summative assessments; they also supply information to inform instructional decisions at the student, classroom, and school levels. This tool enables practitioners to:

  • Evaluate student learning of specific Common Core State Standards;
  • Identify specific student strengths and opportunities for growth in mathematics as they relate to the content in the assessed standards;
  • Identify student instructional needs through collaborative data dialogue to adapt instruction and curriculum materials to better enable student proficiency; and
  • Provide feedback to students for reflection to enable motivation and to deepen learning.

Test Design

Staff in OSPI’s Divisions of Student & School Success, Teaching & Learning, and Assessment led the revision of the MBAs in spring 2013. The collaborative process involved OSPI mathematics specialists, Educational Service Districts’ (ESDs) mathematics and school improvement specialists, and district teachers and leaders.

Item Writing Protocol: Participants worked to write items that provide deep and meaningful information about student learning of critical mathematics skills and applications of grade-level standards.

Items were vetted to ensure they met the criteria for high-quality:

  • Value (Is the item worthy of student attention, and does it allow students to demonstrate mastery of specified standard?)
  • Bias (Does the item provide content accessible for ALL students?)
  • Alignment - Does the item reflect the indicated standard and the complexity required by the intent and language of the standard?

Framework for Item Writing: OSPI test and item specifications for the Measures of Student Progress and End-of-Course assessments provided the framework for item writing. This ensures that assessment evidence at each grade level will provide item and task specificity and clarify the connections between instructional processes and assessment outcomes.

Standards Assessed: Participating districts assess the same set of standards with the same items and test forms over the course of the school year. Districts create “blueprints” that align to the instructional sequence in their pacing/curriculum guides. Assessing a focused set of standards for grade bands K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and HS enables the MBAs to provide the detailed information necessary to make instructional and program decisions.


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