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Student Assessment (PK-12)

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Student assessments include both formative and summative assessments. The results of the 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 On-going Data Collection step in the Iowa Professional Development Model. State-wide and district-wide summative assessments are mandated by Iowa Code (Chapter 12) and used for district accreditation and federal reporting, as defined by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. Formative assessments are on-going and are used to inform the instructional process and develop student learning goals.


Assessment OF Learning
(Summative Assessment)
Assessment FOR Learning
(Formative Assessment)

Assessment OF Learning (Summative Assessments) 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.

    Assessment FOR Learning (Formative Assessment) 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. As assessment for learning, 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

      All students must take a variety of achievement tests every year to determine how much and how well they are learning. Iowa's assessment system has been fully approved by the United States Department of Education.

      Student Assessments in Iowa at a Glance

      Local Assessments

      Districts must annually administer district-wide assessments in reading, math and science, and they must align their assessments to their curriculum or content standards. These assessment tools are selected by the district and must be complementary (not identical to) to the state required tests. For more information about local assessments, contact the district's curriculum director or building principal.

      State Assessments

      Iowa uses the Iowa Assessments for grades 3-8 and 11 as our annual statewide assessment. The following Iowa Testing Programs subtests were originally used by districts for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and Annual Progress Report (APR) reporting:

      • Reading Comprehension for Reading (now Reading – given in 2 parts for 3-8 grades and 1 test for grade 11)
      • Mathematical Concepts and Problem Solving for Mathematics (now called Math – 2 parts for 3-8 grades and 1 test for grade 11)
      • Analysis of Science Materials for Science (now just called Science)

      Beginning in 2011-12, Iowa will use the following Iowa Assessments for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and Annual Progress Report (APR) reporting:

      • Reading (2 parts for grades 3-8 and 1 test for grade 11)
      • Mathematics (2 parts for grades 3-8 and 1 test for grade 11)
      • Science

      Go to for descriptions of the tests and times for administration.

      National Assessments

      The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) tests are conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Education to a representative sample of students in grades 4 and 8 nationwide. Prior to 2003, the tests were periodic and voluntary; since the Fall 2003, all states have been required to participate. See Iowa NAEP Results.

      Reporting Results

      Each fall, all districts publish and distribute an Annual Progress Report that includes local student achievement results and other accountability indicators. The state also 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. In addition, the state produces an annual report card as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, listing achievement results, teacher quality indicators, and schools or districts that did not meet achievement goals for two consecutive years.

      Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 27, 2016 at 2:04pm.