The Washington State Assessment System

How the alternative assessments fit into the whole system................

Statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, receive a quality education. Washington students are regularly tested by the state to assess their progress as they move through elementary and middle school. In high school, students are tested on their proficiency of basic skills and must pass specific assessments to be eligible to graduate.


The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) develops or selects and administers all state assessments. They also report achievement data for students, schools, districts and the state. This information assists districts and schools in refining instructional practices and curriculum and gives families valuable information about how well their child is doing and where additional help might be needed. One requirement of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is that states have their assessment programs approved for technical quality by the U.S. Department of Education. Washington's assessment program has received a "Fully Approved" rating through this process.


Beginning in the 2009-10 school year, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) was replaced by two new tests: the grades 3-8 Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE).


To learn more about state testing, visit or click on the names of each test below. For questions, write to


Testing Students


     (MSP)The name of the MSP, given to students in grades 3-8, conveys the goal of the test: to measure student progress.
  • High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE)
    This test measures the proficiency of students in high school and serves as the state’s exit exam. Students must pass this assessment or a state-approved alternative in reading and writing in order to be eligible to graduate.
  • Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL)
    This test was replaced in 2009-10 by the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE).
  • Washington Alternate Assessment System (WAAS)
    The WAAS provides multiple ways for students with an Individual Education Program (IEP) to participate in the state testing system.
  • Second Grade Fluency and Accuracy Assessment
    Every student is assessed at the beginning of second grade using a grade-level equivalent oral reading passage.
  • Washington Language Proficiency Test II (WLPT-II)
    The WLPT-II annually assesses the growth of the state’s English language learners. Students in grades K-12 are tested in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
    NAEP is a national assessment that allows educational achievement to be compared across states. Federal law requires every state to give the NAEP in reading and math at grades 4 and 8 every two years. States and school districts that receive Title I federal funding to aid educationally disadvantaged students in high poverty areas must participate in these assessments. Other subjects also are tested.
  • Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) and Classroom-Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs)
    The state supports the development of classroom-based assessments that are based on the state’s learning standards and help guide day-to-day instruction. State curriculum specialists create tasks and questions that model good assessments and provide them to local school districts.



(Adapted from the OSPI Website on Assessment)