What Devices Can Students Use to Take the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Posted by Andrew Howard on Apr 3, 2015 3:00:00 PM
Andrew Howard

Smarter Balanced Device Requirements imageWith the beginning of the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test just coming up quickly, we wanted to put this quick guide together to help educators identify if their school/classroom's devices (or students' devices, in a BYOD setting) are SBAC online assessment compatible.

Read below the break to learn more about the specific Smarter Balanced technology requirements for testing devices and how to ensure that your students’ devices meet the requirements.

The key requirements of the SBAC testing platform

Much like PARCC, a large number of desktop computers, laptop computers, netbooks, and tablets are compatible with the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced (SBAC) online assessments. But that does not mean all devices and tablets are capable of supporting the SBAC online test platform.

According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, your student’s testing device must meet the following specifications to be compatible :

  • The ability to connect to the internet via a wired or wireless network with a minimum bandwidth speed of 20 Kbps per student during simultaneous testing.

  • A "pointing device" must be available. This includes a mouse, touch screen, touchpad, or other pointing input devices.

  • The ability to listen to text-to-speech audio features via headphones

  • A screen size that is 10 inches or larger

  • A display resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels or greater

  • Access to a working physical keyboard (unless specifiied differently by student's IEP or 504 plan)

Device-specific tech requirements

Okay, so we've covered the ubiquitous technology specifications. Next let's take a look at the device-specific requirements for your students' computers and tablets.


Pay close attention to the below section if your students intend to take the SBAC assessment via a laptop computer, desktop computer, or a netbook (i.e. a Chromebook).

According to Smarter Balanced, its online testing platform is supported on four CPU-based different operating systems (OS):

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
  • Chrome OS


As you know, tablets are becoming increasingly popular within schools across the country. This includes devices like the Apple iPad, Google Nexus 10, and Samsung Galaxy Tab. However, it's important to note that not all tablets can be used to take the SBAC online assessments.

Per Smarter Balanced, online testing platform is supported on 10 inch or larger tablets that operate via one of three following mobile operating systems:

  • Android
  • Apple iOS
  • Windows 8

Be aware, tablets with a screen size smaller than 10 inches (like e-readers, 7 inch tablets, and smartphones) are not SBAC-approved.

Helpful charts and links from SBAC

The chart below, provided by Smarter Balanced, indicates the “minimum” and “recommended” operating system version numbers for both tablets and CPUs.
SBAC_minimum_device_requirements_image(Click image to enlarge)

As seen in the "Technology Strategy Framework", the SBAC folks are quick to note that these system requirements "represent a low compliance threshold" and recommend that districts strive to exceed these minimum requirements when possible.

Be sure to check out the following links for more official information from Smarter Balanced regarding the minimum technology requirements and FAQs:

More SBAC prep resources from the Wowzers Team         

Be sure to check out the Common Core Assessments section of the Wowzers Blog to learn more about Smarter Balanced, including frequently-posted tips, testing best practices, and updates.

Lastly, we'd love to hear your questions, comments, and opinions regarding your online assessment preparation efforts. Feel free to reach out to us via our Facebook page or tweet us at @Wowzers.

Image Credit: smarterbalanced.org


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Topics: Common Core Assessments

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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