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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 17, 2011

UI College of Education's Iowa Testing Programs creates Iowa Assessments

As local students sharpen their No. 2 pencils and fill in the familiar bubbles for fall standardized testing, there are some major changes to this educational tradition.

These significant updates include a new name, the Iowa Assessments, which replaces the tests formerly known as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED), according to two assessment experts with the University of Iowa College of Education's Iowa Testing Programs (ITP).

The assessments, the latest version of the tests created by ITP, reflect the integration of previous assessments at the elementary/middle school (ITBS) and high schools levels (ITED), according to Stephen Dunbar, ITP director and the Hieronymus-Feldt Professor of Educational Measurement.

"The new assessments promote the use of information on student achievement from kindergarten through grade 12, allowing parents and educators to monitor student growth across the entire continuum," Dunbar says.

The new versions of the tests were designed and developed based on content found in the Iowa Core and the Common Core State Standards, Dunbar says. The assessments focus on reading, English, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

"What we've developed is a new assessment that will provide a better tool to assess student readiness and college preparation," Dunbar says.

Dunbar adds that ITP staff participated in Iowa Core working groups in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Education.

"Successive drafts of the Common Core State Standards in English, language arts and mathematics were consulted as materials for the new Iowa Assessments were developed and field tested," Dunbar says. "After field-testing, questions were selected for the published forms based on their alignment to the Iowa Core, their ability to measure growth, and their technical quality."

In Iowa, more than 360,000 students were tested last year, according to Catherine Welch, professor of psychological and quantitative foundations with Iowa Testing Programs. She adds that a similar number of students in grades third through 12th are expected to take the new assessments this academic year.

These assessments provide valuable information to parents, students, educators, and administrators, Welch says.

"Students will receive information on their performance in terms of the Iowa Core, as well as information related to being on track for college readiness and individual growth targets," Welch says.

Welch adds that information from the Iowa Assessments can be used by students and parents to identify strengths and weaknesses, by classroom teachers to inform and differentiate instruction, by school administrators to evaluate programs, monitor trends and follow groups of students, and by school boards and policy makers to understand growth toward college and career readiness.

In Iowa, school districts across Iowa have the flexibility to administer the assessments in the fall, midyear, or spring. Iowa City Community School District students are taking the assessment this fall, with elementary students taking the tests this past week, and those in high school taking them during the week of Monday, Oct. 17th. Schools in Cedar Rapids have moved assessments to the spring, Welch said. Last year, statewide, 32 percent of schools tested in the fall, 34 percent tested midyear, and 34 percent tested in the spring.

All 366 Iowa school districts are part of a long-standing cooperative assessment program with the UI's Iowa Testing Programs. Each school district receives a full array of assessments and professional support services for $3.50 per student, Dunbar says. For schools outside the state of Iowa the cost for comparable services is about $15, he adds.

"The issue of testing generates a lot of discussion and questions," Dunbar says, "and we're confident that the Iowa Assessments are at the cutting edge of giving students, and their parents, knowledge that will help them know if they're on track academically."

For more information on Iowa Testing Programs or the Iowa Assessments, call 319-335-5408 or visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Steve Dunbar, 319-335-5561,; Catherine Welch, 319-335-6274,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,