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posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - March 3rd, 2015

Have you ever wondered about the difference between the PARCC vs. SBAC test? If so, you’re a parent of a child who will be taking the Common Core test sometime soon! The Common Core State Standards were originally intended to produce a uniform test that would be given across all 50 states. The idea was to replace the patchwork of state tests with a single, unified system.

Of course, as with many things, the Common Core quickly became more complicated and fragmented. A number of states joined the so-called PARCC Consortium, which gives one version of the Common Core test. Another group of states joined the SBAC, or Smarter Balanced, Consortium, which gives a different flavor of test. And a third group of states decided to decline the opportunity to join the Common Core initiative altogether, and instead stick with their own, unique state tests. We’ve heard from a number of parents wondering if there’s really a difference between the PARCC vs. SBAAC test.

The tests share many similarities, so if you’ve been using a one-size fits all Common Core solution, don’t panic. One of the biggest differences is that the SBAC adapts questions based on a student’s previous responses. This stands in contrast to the PARCC’s more traditional approach of presenting the same questions regardless of the student’s performance up to that point.

If you’re wondering if you’re in a PARCC vs. SBAC test state, don’t fear: we’ve listed the states in each consortium below. Don’t look now, but there’s also a third consortium emerging: the American Institutes for Research, or AIR Consortium. We’ve listed the three states that appear to be on track for that consortium as well. (Note there is some overlap as some states belong to more than one consortium.)

SBAC Consortium States:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


PARCC Consortium States:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee


AIR Consortium States:

  • Florida
  • Utah
  • Arizona


For more information on the PARCC vs. SBAC test, go to

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