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Statewide Assessment Requirements


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A variety of summative assessments (assessments OF learning) are used in the state of Iowa to meet federally and state mandated assessment requirements. These assessments are used to determine whether student subgroups, public schools, and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) make adequate yearly progress (AYP). Iowa Code subsection 256.7(21)(c) requires school districts, as accredited in Iowa, to annually report the progress of student achievement in their Annual Progress Report (APR).

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation requires that all states assess all students 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 through 8 and in grade 11. In science, student results are reported in grades 8 and 11, until the 2007-2008 school year in which grade 5 students’ results will also be reported.  Students identified as English language learners (ELL) are additionally assessed using the English Language Development Assessment (ELDA). Some students with disabilities are assessed using the Iowa Alternate Assessment.

In Iowa, all public schools and LEAs are held to the same process and criteria for making adequate yearly progress toward 100% proficiency by the 2013-14 school year. For purposes of AYP accountability, all public schools and LEAs are judged by performance and improvement on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED). These measures are the common comparable measures across all school districts, thus, ensuring fairness, validity, and reliability when making unbiased, rational, and consistent determinations of the annual progress of LEAs and schools within the state. All schools and districts are expected to make improvement in student achievement.


Chapter 12 of Iowa Code Relating to Student Assessment

Topic: Assessment of student achievement: All students
Rule: Each school or school district shall include in its comprehensive school improvement plan provisions for district-wide assessment of student progress for all students. The plan shall identify valid and reliable student assessments aligned with local content standards, which include the core content standards referenced in subparagraph 12.8(1)(c)(2). These assessments are not limited to commercially developed measures.

Rule Interpretation:

  • District-wide means all attendance centers within a school district or accredited nonpublic school.
  • District-wide assessment means large-scale achievement or performance measures.
  • Students with disabilities participate in district wide assessment as indicated on the IEP.
  • The district-wide assessment plan must assess student progress on all content standards in reading, mathematics, and science.
  • School districts are providing evidence for the technical adequacy of district-wide assessments through the Iowa Technical Adequacy Project (ITAP).

Note for only public school districts: NCLB requires that all students be tested if they are enrolled in school on the day of testing. Testing windows for the ITBS and the ITED are established by Iowa school districts in accordance with Iowa Testing Program guidelines. It is expected that a school building and the district can report results for all district enrolled and open-enrolled students.


Chapter 12 Citation: 281--IAC 12.8(1)(f) and Iowa Code subsection 256D.1(b)

Topic: Assessment of student achievement Diagnostic Assessments K-3
Rule: School districts receiving early intervention funding described in subrule 12.5(18) shall provide for diagnostic reading assessments for kindergarten through grade 3 students as described in 1999 Iowa Acts, House File 743.

Rule Interpretation:

  • Diagnostic assessments need to be administered at every grade K, 1, 2, and 3.
  • Every student in every grade K-3 must be assessed at least twice a year so that parents can be notified at least two times each year of their individual child's reading progress and interventions planned to improve performance.
  • Districts do not have to assess all three areas (phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension) at each grade level; however, all three areas must be assessed at some time in the K-3 grade span. 
  • Districts must determine the grade level at which to assess skills most appropriately.

Note: These requirements apply only to public school districts accessing Iowa Early Intervention Program funds.


Chapter 12 Citation: 281—IAC 12.8(1)(f)(1)

Topic: Assessment of student achievement - State indicators.
Rule: Using at least one district-wide assessment, a school or school district shall assess student progress on the state indicators in, but not limited to, reading, mathematics, and science as specified in subrule 12.8(3).  At least one district-wide assessment shall allow for, but not be limited to, the comparison of the school or school district's students with students from across the state and in the nation in reading, mathematics, and science.  A school or school district shall use additional assessments to measure progress on locally determined content standards in at least reading, mathematics, and science.

Rule Interpretation:

  • Multiple assessment measures, for reporting to the local community or state, means more than one valid and reliable instrument that quantifies district-wide student learning, including specific grade level data.
  • The multiple measure/s can be given at any grade level. This is a local decision.
  • At a minimum, a school district or accredited nonpublic school must have at least one additional assessment in reading, mathematics, and science.

For more information on Chapter 12 of the Iowa Code visit the NCLB Laws, Rules, and Regulations website:

For a comparison of state and federal assessment requirements visit the APR & AYP Compare and Contrast website:

For more information on implications for Iowa from the federally mandated NCLB legislation visit the NCLB website:

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 02, 2015 at 10:04am.