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Technical Assistance

Alignment Studies: Assessments to Standards, Standards to Standards, and Curricula to Standards

Will your assessments measure the academic content standards they are intended to measure? Will your standards prepare students for college and career readiness? Will your instructional program and supports help teachers provide instruction based on state standards? Our alignment studies are customized to state and local education agencies’ context and existing or emerging needs.

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Who Will Benefit

  • State education agencies needing to fulfill federal peer review requirements or looking for the introduction of new state standards
  • Assessment vendors and curriculum developers seeking evidence of content validity and reliability
  • Education policymakers, state education agency personnel, and district administrators, who use results from education assessments for any of a wide variety of purposes

Service Details

State education agency personnel, administrators, and teachers who use students’ assessment results for any purpose must be sure that the assessments reflect the breadth and depth of standards that guide instruction. In turn, they need standards that clearly define the content and skills that students should acquire in each grade level to prepare them for college and career readiness. Similarly, teachers and district administrators who acquire curricula must be certain that the materials reflect state and/or district standards. When all three elements (assessments, standards, and curricula) are in sync, students learn challenging content linked to college- and career-readiness expectations and are able to demonstrate what they know and can do through fair measures of achievement.

WestEd conducts alignment studies designed to provide state education agency personnel, administrators, and teachers with action-oriented information about the degree to which the core elements of their instruction are congruent with locally developed or vendor-developed assessments, identifying any gaps or areas of overlap.

Service Format

WestEd’s alignment studies are customized to each client’s unique context and existing or emerging needs. These needs may be related to federal accountability requirements or to the introduction of revised standards and/or assessments for English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and career-technical education. For science, WestEd has developed and uses a unique alignment protocol to account for the three-dimensional requirements of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and their assessments.

The studies can be conducted by WestEd’s experienced alignment team independently or in collaboration with client-identified stakeholders, such as teachers and district personnel. WestEd recognizes that alignment studies provide teachers with an excellent opportunity for professional development.

We can implement the appropriate models of alignment depending on the unique context in which instruction is delivered and the ways in which the client currently uses assessment results.

Services are delivered in a timely and fiscally responsible manner.

What Makes This Service Unique

WestEd has been conducting studies of alignment on behalf of states, districts, assessment vendors, and curriculum developers since 2005. Our portfolio of work has extended into all regions of the United States. These efforts have enabled informed decision-making by state education agencies, assessment vendors, institutions of higher education, district administrators, and teachers across the nation. We have conducted alignment studies for state standards, curricula, and a wide range of assessments, including formative, interim, summative, and alternate assessments.

Who Facilitates This Service?

WestEd’s alignment team has years of experience conducting studies of alignment between assessments and standards, standards and standards, and curricula and standards.

WestEd’s team has experience in teaching, developing assessments, and conducting alignment studies for English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and career-technical education.

In addition, members of the team bring extensive state- and district-level experience to the table ― both in using a range of alignment methods and using findings to support claims of content validity.

What Research Informs the Work?

WestEd’s alignment services are grounded in research and best-practice recommendations from seminal resources such as the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 2014).

Members of the alignment team have experience with a wide range of alignment methodologies ranging from a Webb-based approach focused on areas of overlap and gaps in terms of depth and breadth of content coverage, to strategies designed for finely grained analysis of the degree to which an assessment measure is instructionally sensitive.

The portfolio of options allows prospective clients to examine relationships

  • Among sets of standards (e.g., state content standards and the Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress)
  • Between sets of curricular tools or instructional approaches and standards
  • Between an assessment and a set of standards (e.g., a customized state assessment and state content standards or a commercially available interim assessment and state content standards)

In addition to determining the alignment between assessment items and standards, and the alignment between two sets of standards, WestEd’s protocols also allow clients to examine the quality of their assessment items and their standards.

  • For assessment items, WestEd tailors its studies to report on their structural quality, content quality, and fairness.
  • For academic content standards, WestEd conducts studies to evaluate their career and college readiness.

Please see these pamphlets that describe our types of alignment studies:


Fees are based on services needed and on the numbers of items, assessments, curricula, and sets of standards.

Learn More

To learn more, contact Andrew Bell at