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Student Assessment (PK–12)


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Results of student assessments are used by all stakeholders to make program, staffing, professional development, instructional, financial, and personal decisions. They are an important component of both the Collecting/Analyzing Student data step and the Ongoing Data Collection step in the Iowa Professional Development Model. Statewide and district-wide summative assessments are mandated by Iowa Code (Chapter 12) and used for district accreditation and federal reporting, as defined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation. Formative assessments are ongoing and are used to inform the instructional process and develop student learning goals.


Summative Assessment Formative Assessment

Summative Assessments are assessments OF learning and are given at a point in time to measure and monitor student learning. They provide the feedback to educators, students, parents, and community members and are used to make adjustments in instructional programs, report student progress, identify and place students, and grade students.

Formative Assessment is assessment FOR learning. It is a process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of core content. Formative assessment practices provide students with clear learning targets, examples and models of strong and weak work, regular descriptive feedback, and the ability to self-assess, track learning, and set goals. (Adapted from Council of Chief State School Officers, FAST SCASS)

Assessments and Accountability

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation requires that states annually assess all students on achievement of grade-level, state-adopted standards in reading, mathematics, and science. To meet the requirements of the legislation, Iowa school districts and buildings must report assessment results for all students in reading and mathematics in Grades 3–8 and one grade in high school. In science, student results are reported in one grade each for elementary, middle school, and high school. No more than 1% of students with significant cognitive disabilities must also be assessed in reading, mathematics, and science using an alternate assessment. Students identified as English language learners (ELL) are additionally assessed in Grades K–12 on achievement of state-adopted English language proficiency standards.

Required Student Assessments

State and Federally Required Assessments

The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) is the summative accountability assessment for all Iowa students that meets the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The test was developed by Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) at the University of Iowa as per the Iowa Legislature (HF 2235) and was first administered in the spring of 2019. The ISASP is aligned to the Iowa Core academic standards and accurately describes student achievement and growth.

Assessments will be administered in the following subjects and grade levels:

  • Mathematics: Grades 3–11
  • English-Language Arts, including reading and writing: Grades 3–11
  • Science: Grades 5, 8, and 10

Visit the ISASP website for more information.

To meet federal requirements, Iowa uses Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) for alternate assessments and English Language Proficiency Assessments for the 21st Century (ELPA21) for English language proficiency.

To meet state mandates, Iowa uses Teaching Strategies' GOLD to assess preschool. To meet Early Literacy Implementation (ELI) requirements for Grades K–3, districts select from a Department-approved assessment list. Districts must use Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (ELAA) to meet ELI requirements when assessing students with significant cognitive disabilities.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests are administered periodically to a representative sample of students in Grades 4 and 8 nationwide in math, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history. NAEP, known as the nation’s report card, is the only state-by-state comparison of student progress. Since the Fall 2003, all states have been required to participate. See Iowa NAEP Results.

Statewide Manuals

The State of Iowa Test Security Manual and the Statewide Assessment System Accessibility Manual should be followed by all assessment stakeholders in Iowa. See the latest manuals and supporting resources below:

Reporting of Testing Incidents

A test administrator/proctor who has witnessed a testing incident should contact the school administrator and district assessment coordinator. Testing incidents and accommodation errors are reported by district assessment coordinators through the Testing Incident Reporting application available through the Iowa Education Portal. District Assessment Coordinators need an account and access to the reporting application within the portal. If the coordinator needs access to the portal and/or the reporting application, contact the district’s portal security officer.

Reporting Results

The state produces an Annual Condition of Education Report that provides statewide demographic, curriculum, staffing, financial, and achievement data to help districts and policymakers evaluate the state's educational system and ensure it is meeting the needs of students and communities.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on December 01, 2021 at 7:28am.