Formative Assessment Item Bank

Originally developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Formative Assessment Item Bank has been acquired by NWEA in support of our mission: Partnering to help all kids learn.®

The Formative Assessment Item Bank provides the flexibility and item variety necessary to create custom assessments at the district and classroom levels. Educators can select items that most closely reflect their curriculum and instruction and are most appropriate for their student population and the time of year the test is given.

The Formative Assessment Item Bank is separate from NWEA's Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) assessment suite. No items from MAP are contained in this Item Bank and its items are not calibrated on the RIT scale. Additionally, the Formative Assessment Item Bank is not available as a component of the MAP assessment suite at this time.


The Item Bank is typically licensed to clients through a network of distributors - these are platform vendors who have software systems that provide the functionality needed to access and use the Item Bank. These platforms contain functionality such as item storage, test building, scanning, scoring, and reporting. There are currently over 35 platform providers who are authorized to distribute NWEA's Formative Assessment Item Bank. NWEA can also license the Item Bank directly to districts for use in a mutually agreed upon platform.


For information about accessing the Item Bank, please contact:

What is in the Formative Assessment Item Bank?

The Formative Assessment Item Bank contains over 70,000 high-quality, standards-based items for the following:

  • Mathematics: Over 30,700* items for kindergarten through grade 12
  • English Language Arts (Reading and Writing): Over 29,200* items for kindergarten through grade 12
  • Science: Over 8,700* items for grade 3 through grade 12
  • Social Studies: Over 1,400* items for high school courses* The exact number of items that align to any given state or set of standards will vary.

All items have been checked for a match and aligned where appropriate to the standards for all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Coverage reports are available upon request.

The majority of the items are multiple-choice, but constructed-response items are also available. To aid in item selection when building assessments, items are identified by several user-selectable categories: grade level, standard, estimated difficulty level, cognitive level, and passage type.

What is the item development process?

The items in the Formative Assessment Item Bank were developed using a rigorous item development process that includes multiple rounds of review to help ensure that the items are developed using best practices, are grade appropriate, free of potential bias and sensitivity concerns, and follow the principles of universal design.

NWEA continues to grow and improve the Formative Assessment Item Bank. The specific development plans for the Item Bank vary each year. Typically, it is updated twice a year, so educators can have access to new items, updated alignments, and other improvements to the Item Bank as soon as possible. NWEA continues to contract with ETS to help maintain and enhance the Formative Assessment Item Bank.

Please contact for more information on the Formative Assessment Item Bank.

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