The Formative Assessment Item Bank and the Common Core State Standards

Certica Solutions, Inc. (Certica), a provider of K-12 data management and student assessment solutions, recently acquired the Formative Assessment Item Bank (FAIB) from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and recognizes the current shifts in curriculum and assessment taking place across the country driven by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As educators move forward with the critical work of implementing the CCSS and preparing students for the tests that will assess these standards, the need for instructional data has never been greater. Educators need the right tools to help students meet and exceed the rigorous academic expectations and demands of the 21st century. As part of this effort, Certica is pleased to offer the Formative Assessment Item Bank (FAIB).

Purpose of the FAIB

The items in the FAIB are designed to be used to create custom formative assessments at both the district and classroom levels to provide valuable student data to help guide and improve instruction. . The FAIB is a robust item bank that allows educators the flexibility to select items that closely reflect their curriculum and instruction. Educators can also select the most appropriate items for their student population and for the time of year the test is given.

CCSS Item Counts

There are currently over 54,500 total items written and/or aligned to the CCSS in the FAIB. Here is what is available by subject area:

  • Mathematics: Over 23,400 items for K‐12, including items aligned to the Mathematical Practice Standards
  • English Language Arts (Reading and Writing): Over 31,100 items for K‐12, including items aligned to the Literacy in Science and Social Studies Standards.

Coverage reports with the item counts by subject area, grade, and standard are available upon request.

Science and Social Studies Item Counts

Science and Social Studies items aligned to state standards are available for the following grades:

  • Science: Over 11,100 items for grade 3 through grade 12 aligned to state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Social Studies: Over 3,400 items for grade 6 through grade 12 aligned to state standards

FAIB Updates

The FAIB is dynamic. Certica will continue to add new items and reading passages, update and refine alignments, and make other improvements to enhance the FAIB and improve its effectiveness for teachers and students.

New Item Development

The items in the FAIB were developed using a rigorous item development process that includes multiple rounds of review to help ensure that the items adhere to best practices, are grade appropriate, are free of potential bias and sensitivity concerns, and follow the principles of universal design. The FAIB contains over 8,300 items written directly to the CCSS, and Certica will continue to develop new items for future updates.

Item Alignment

Items not specifically written to the CCSS are checked for an alignment match to the CCSS and to the state‐specific CCSS. Certica works with qualified, trained content aligners who review each item and determine whether it would provide useful data on a student’s ability relative to the standard. If so, the item is aligned. If not, the item is not aligned. Therefore, the exact number of items that align to the CCSS or any state‐specific version of the CCSS may vary.

Item Types

The FAIB offers a variety of item types in order to be able to assess standards in the most appropriate way and to reflect the intent of more rigorous standards. All items are identified by several user‐ selectable categories such as grade level, standard, estimated difficulty level, and cognitive level. When building assessments using the FAIB, educators can select from the following item types:

  • Multiple‐Choice Items
  • Constructed‐Response Items with Scoring Rubrics
  • Mode‐Specific Writing Prompts with Scoring Rubrics
  • Technology‐Enhanced Items (TEIs)

Cognitive Levels

Certica will continue to focus new item development efforts on providing the rigor and cognitive demand necessary to effectively assess the CCSS. Each item in the FAIB is identified with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level. Because the purpose of the FAIB is to create custom formative assessments, the FAIB contains a variety of items at each cognitive level to allow educators to meet the unique needs of their students and test a wide range of student abilities.

Reading Passages

The FAIB contains a wide variety of reading passages that include current copyrighted materials, classic literature, and passages written specifically for the FAIB. The passages cover a variety of topics, genres, and organizational structures. Certica will continue to add passages that reflect the CCSS’s emphasis on informational text, text complexity, solid textual evidence, authentic materials, and content‐area reading. Passages come with helpful metadata including genre, passage length, and Lexile® measure. The FAIB also includes sets of paired reading passages that are thematically linked or provide contrasting viewpoints and require students to compare, contrast, and synthesize information across multiple texts.

Items Translated into Spanish

Some of the items and passages in the FAIB for kindergarten through grade 8 have been translated into Spanish, so educators can assess Spanish‐speaking students’ understanding of the concepts without testing the students’ understanding of English.

Formative Assessment Item Bank Feature Checklist
Arrow New items, updated alignments, and other improvements available each year
Arrow Over 54,500 CCSS items with over 8,300 new items written directly to the CCSS
Arrow Mathematics and ELA items available for K‐12
Arrow Science and Social Studies items also available
Arrow Variety of item types, including multiple choice, constructed response, writing prompts, and technology‐enhanced Items
Arrow Items that represent a range of cognitive levels
Arrow Reading passages that represent a variety of text types and have Lexile® measures
Arrow Paired reading passages
Arrow Some items available in Spanish


If you would like more information, please send an email to FAIBInquiry@certicasolutions.com.