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From the Archdiocese of Denver
April 8, 2014

Why take the Iowa Assessments instead of the ITBS?

Archdiocese of Denver Catholic School students took the Iowa Assessments this year. This is the new name for the standardized achievement test that students have been taking annually for many years, but there are a few differences worth noting. The slightly changed name of the battery, which used to be called the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, or ITBS, is some indication that there are changes to the test.

What is different about the Iowa Assessments test items?

Riverside Publishing Company has revised the test items. Items have been rewritten from the older ITBS to reflect changes in content in some subject areas, to add some areas and drop others. Changes include updating some items, increasing the variety of items to increase the level of difficulty, strengthening the higher level thinking skills required in some areas, and working to reduce ethnic bias. In the area of Language Arts, the “Punctuation”,” Capitalization”, and mechanics subtests have been replaced by tests called “Written Expression” and “Conventions of Writing”. “Reading” has become a separate sub test instead of the title of a group of tests. These are all included under the title “English Language Arts”. The skills are still tests, but they have be rearranged and focused differently. The Mathematics area now has two subtests (Mathematics and Computation) instead of 3. All of these changes strengthen the results that the Iowa will provide for our students.

Are the norms the same as before?

The norming group for the test has also been changed. This changing of the norms has happened in the past. This means that a different and more recent group of test-takers provides the context for the scores. It means that the AoDCS assessment of growth from one year to the next is somewhat skewed for this one year as we absorb the change.

How have the reports to parents changed?

The reports to parents are a little different to reflect these changes. Most of the information parents received before is there, it is just formatted differently. To be more relevant to all the schools and school systems that use these tests, The Iowa Assessment has added a component to indicate how the scores on this test compare to student scores on the ACT. For example, a score of 312 for an 11th grade students in Mathematics on ACT would indicate that this student is ready to pass a college level Math course with a “B” or “C” without remediation. Statisticians have computed a backward trajectory to indicate what the equivalent score might be in 10th grade or back as far as 5th grade. The Iowa Assessment is reporting these predictions to parents. This is a new and will need to be watched carefully to determine if these predictions have validity.