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State Board of Education begins process of adopting a new state assessment


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Members of the State Board of Education today voted to start the formal process of adopting a new state assessment to replace the current state tests in math and reading taken each year by Iowa students.

Board members reviewed proposed state administrative rules that would put in place the Smarter Balanced Assessments as recommended by a legislatively created task force of Iowans. Board members then voted unanimously to start the rule-making process required for adoption. The state’s administrative rules process, which includes public hearings and reviews by a legislative committee, takes at least 108 days.

Board members gave several reasons they support the Smarter Balanced Assessments, including the need to accurately measure how students have progressed in reaching expectations set by Iowa’s academic standards, which outline what students in kindergarten through 12th grade should know and be able to do in math, English-language arts, science, social studies and 21st century skills.

“We need to know that Iowa schools are preparing students to be ready for the demands of college and career training,” said Charlie Edwards of Des Moines, the board’s president. “Iowa took a huge step years ago with putting the right state standards in place, and now we must follow that with an assessment that effectively tells us whether students are meeting those standards.”  

Iowa law says a new state assessment must be in place by the 2016-17 school year. Students currently take the Iowa Assessments in grades 3-8 and 11 in math and reading to meet state and federal accountability laws.

The Smarter Balanced Assessments were developed by a consortium of states, including Iowa, guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system aligned to rigorous academic standards can improve teaching and can help prepare students for success in college and in the workplace.

Adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessments was the centerpiece of a Dec. 2014 report from the Iowa Assessment Task Force, created by lawmakers in 2013 to study the state’s assessment needs and to make a recommendation.

State Board of Education members closely studied the task force’s work and endorsed the recommendations earlier this year.

“Choosing a state assessment requires expertise to ensure that it reflects what is being taught in classrooms, appropriately measures student progress, and gives teachers and parents valuable feedback,” said Mary Ellen Miller, a board member from Wayne County. “The Assessment Task Force has this expertise and invested more than a year into a recommendation that is right for Iowa.”

The proposed rules will be published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin, the state’s official notice of all proposed and adopted changes to the rules in the Iowa Administrative Code. The Iowa Department of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules on Nov. 3 and will accept written comments (see page 1 of the proposed rules).

For more information on Iowa’s administrative rules process, visit the following:

For more information about the Smarter Balanced Assessments, visit:


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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on January 18, 2018 at 11:23am.