Students in Waterloo Schools took the Iowa Assessments, formerly ITBS and ITED, earlier this spring. We expect results to be in soon, and we know how anxious everyone is to see how our students did.
To help understand some differences in reports that you and parents will be seeing, we want you to have some basic information. More specific information will be coming to principals and teachers and parents about individual students and groups of students, and to the entire community about the district as a whole in the weeks ahead. We’ll stay in touch with all our employees all along the way.
First of all, some Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why was the test changed? It’s critical to measure student learning on those things we consider essential for students to learn—that we test what we teach. Iowa, along with many other states, has adopted the “Common Core Curriculum,” which lists the standards for what we want our students to learn. The new Iowa Assessments are aligned to those standards, whereas the old ITBS and ITED were not. Iowa started using ITBS and ITED when we needed a state-wide test because they were the best we had that was readily available. The Iowa Assessments have been developed to give us better information.
- What are the differences between old and new tests? The basic structure of the new Iowa Assessments is fairly similar to the old tests in that the types of tests and length of tests are essentially the same. However, the Iowa Assessments are more rigorous, meaning that students have to use higher levels of thinking to answer the questions. The former ITBS and ITED asked questions that required lower levels of thinking than the new Iowa Assessments.
- How are other districts doing? Since many Iowa districts tested in the fall, they already have their results back. The sampling we have done of other urban schools shows that the percent of students who are proficient in elementary and middle grades is generally lower compared to last year’s ITBS, while at high school, they are generally running the same or slightly higher. The testing service reminds us that this is a new test, and results are NOT COMPARABLE to the ITBS and ITED. We are being urged to begin a new trend line by considering this year the baseline year. All future testing will be compared to these baseline scores.
- Why is National Standard Score (NSS) now being emphasized rather than just a National Percentile Rank (NPR)? For the purpose of reporting under No Child Left Behind requirements, the state of Iowa has decided to use National Standard Scores to determine whether or not students are proficient. NSS is more precise, and it can be used to measure growth in students in addition to merely indicating their status. NPR is still an important indicator of how a student compares to his or her peers across the nation, but it will no longer be used for No Child Left Behind reports. All reports for teachers and parents will show both NSS and NPR.
We have some great tools on our website to let you go into as much depth as you wish about these tests. Please visit the site often, and watch for emails with updated information. Also, remind parents that we have some good resources right on the front page of our site.