Technical Assistance

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

Will your instructional program and supports measure what they’re intended to measure? Will your instructional program and supports help teachers provide instruction based on state standards? Our alignment studies are customized to school, district, and state education agencies’ context and existing or emerging needs.

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Who Will Benefit

  • Test Developers (state agencies or vendors) seeking evidence of content validity
  • Those who use results from education assessments for any of a wide variety of purposes; for example, K–12 teachers, counselors, and school and district administrators; faculty and counselors from institutions of higher education; state education agency personnel; education policymakers

Service Details

Teachers, administrators, and state education agency personnel who use students’ test results for any purpose must be sure that the assessments reflect the standards being taught and that the curriculum, in turn, reflects state and/or district standards. When all are in sync, students learn challenging content linked to college and career readiness and are able to demonstrate what they know and can do through fair measures of achievement.

WestEd conducts alignment studies designed to provide states and districts 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.

The studies can be conducted by WestEd’s experienced alignment team independently or in collaboration with client-identified stakeholders. 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, and other clients since 2005. Our portfolio of work has extended into 13 states in all regions of the United States. These efforts have enabled informed decision-making by state education agencies, test vendors, institutions of higher education, district administrators, and teachers across the nation.

Who Facilitates This Service

WestEd’s alignment team has years of experience conducting studies of the alignment among standards and assessments and standards and curricula, as well as those comparing different assessments and those comparing different sets of standards.

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 in 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 analyses 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 standards and particular curricular tools or instructional approaches (e.g., course-specific standards and particular texts or other materials)
  • Between an assessment and a set of standards (e.g., a commercially available test and state standards)
  • Between an assessment and curricular elements (e.g., a placement test and instructional units)


Fees are based on services needed and on the numbers of items, assessments, and sets of standards, with a base cost of $25,000 for a standards-to-assessment alignment study.

Learn More

To learn more, contact Matthew Gaertner or