In early fall, you will receive a letter with your child’s results on California’s new state standardized tests. Trying to interpret them might feel like a test for you!

What’s important to focus on and what do these results tell you about your child’s academic progress?

Most Important: Overall Scores

The front of your letter will show your child’s scores in the two main subject areas: English Language Arts and Mathematics. It will look something like this:

SBAC Overall Scores Chart

You want your child’s scores to fall within the “standard met” and “standard exceeded” range. These test results are not meant to show students’ performance relative to their peers but rather their absolute progress toward the knowledge and skills needed to be ready for college and career.

This student’s score (signified by the black dot) is in the “standard met” category. The black line running through the dot shows the margin of error, the range within which this child would likely score if they took the test again.

What the Categories Mean

Standard Exceeded: Your child is on track to be ready for college by the end of 11th grade.
Standard Met: Your child is on track to be ready for college by 12th grade.
Standard Nearly Met: Right now, your child is behind and needs some extra support to get on track.
Standard Not Met: Your child is far behind grade-level. Talk with your child’s teacher about specific areas where your child is struggling and the plan for getting him or her caught up.

The bottom line: If your child is scoring in the “standard met” or “standard exceeded” category, they’re on track to graduate ready for college and career. If your child is behind, talk to your teacher about the plan for getting your child caught up and back on track.

Going Deeper

When you flip over the card, you’ll find a breakdown of the different areas within the English Language Arts and Mathematics tests. This can help you see where your child is doing very well and where he or she is struggling.

The new California state tests include a lot of exercises that are new and different from those on the old exams (the STAR tests). For instance, the tests include some questions where students listen to an audio section and then answer questions about it. This is reflected in the “listening” score. Other questions ask students not only to solve a math problem, but to explain how they arrived at their answer. This is the “communicating reasoning” score.

Discuss the subscores with your child’s teacher, who has the deepest understanding of how your child is currently doing and where he or she needs extra support.

If your child is in grades 5 or 8, the back side of the letter will also show results of the new state science test.

Science SBAC Score Chart



Get more details on how to read your child’s test scores with this comprehensive guide from GreatSchools!


Resources to learn more

See what your child’s score report will look like.

See a video explaining how to interpret your child’s report.

Parent’s Guide: What to Expect on the New State Tests

Curious what the new tests are like? You can actually take a sample test on the Smarter Balanced website.