State Board of Education begins process of adopting new science assessment
Members of the State Board of Education today voted to start the formal process of adopting a new state science assessment as recommended by an Iowa task force.
Board members reviewed proposed administrative rules that would put in place a new science assessment and then voted to start the rule-making process required for adoption. The process, which includes public hearings and reviews by a legislative committee, takes at least 108 days.
Board members were acting on a recommendation from the Assessment Task Force, which was established as part of education reform legislation that Iowa lawmakers passed in 2013. Following the adoption of new state science standards in 2015, the task force studied options for a new science assessment and recommended ACT Aspire earlier this year.
The task force recommended ACT Aspire as a short-term solution, since an assessment that fully reflects Iowa’s new science standards is not yet available. Specifically, the task force recommended ACT Aspire be administered to students in grades 5, 8 and 10 starting in the 2017-18 school year and ending in the 2019-20 school year. Task force members intend to continue meeting to review long-term options for a state science assessment.
“While new, aligned assessments are being developed, it is critical that science continues to be assessed at the state level,” the task force concluded in its report. “Iowa students, families, educators and policy-makers need information about the effectiveness of science instruction and student needs. Further, the federal government requires that science achievement be reported on an annual basis; Iowa would risk losing federal education funding if science assessments were not administered in the interim.”
“We understand a short-term science assessment is an imperfect solution, and we accept the task force’s recommendation as the direction we need to go until a long-term solution is in place,” said Charlie Edwards, president of the State Board of Education.
Iowa students must take state tests in math, reading and science to meet state and federal education laws. Students currently take the Iowa Assessments in the following subject areas and grades (minimum requirements):
- English language arts: Grades 3-8, 10 and 11
- Math: Grades 3-8, 10 and 11
- Science: Grades 5, 8 and 11
The state is on track to transition to the Smarter Balanced Assessments for math and reading, as recommended by the Assessment Task Force in 2014 and adopted by the State Board of Education in 2015. Iowa students in grades three through eleven will take the Smarter Balanced Assessments for the first time during the 2017-18 school year.
The proposed rules on a new science assessment 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 Jan. 6 and will accept written comments (see page 1 of the proposed rules).
For more information on Iowa’s administrative rules process, visit the following:
- Flowchart on the process: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/RulesHelpDocs/PDF/Flowchart.pdf
- The Iowa Legislature’s website: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/administrativeRules/howDoRulesWork