Changes in State Testing Help Stilwell Student Do His Best

This week, the WDMCS started administering the annual state required test to students in grades 3-11. You may be familiar with the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which is given to students in grades 3-8, or the Iowa Tests of Educational Development, which is given to students in grades 9-11. These tests are now called the Iowa Assessments. In addition to the name change, several portions of the new test have been rewritten to align with the Common Core State Standards.

Students will be tested in reading, writing expression, math, computation, science, social studies and vocabulary. Students in grades 3-8 are also tested in spelling, capitalization and punctuation.

Robert Knudsen, an eighth grader at Stilwell Junior High, has so far completed the math and language arts-related sections and noticed the slight differences in the tests. “I think the tests are more colorful, which helps you relax and get into them,” he said. “It felt like the tests were pretty much the same (as in the past), but the colors really helped.”

When asked about the differences, Robert said the titles and subheads were in color, which helped him navigate the sections and pulled him into the test questions. He said there were also a few pictures in these sections, which helped him visualize a bit better when answering the questions.

Beyond determining simple proficiency levels, the results from the Iowa Assessments can be helpful in many ways to many people. The test provides parents, students, and educators with information on what students know and can do in key academic areas. As students progress through school, their yearly growth in these key areas can be observed and their college-readiness monitored. In addition, group results can be used as part of a comprehensive program evaluation. These are just a few of the ways that the results can provide helpful information.

Robert knows he will get his scores back in January, which will, in part, be used to determine if he will be placed in advanced classes. “I will see my percentile ranking and see how it compares to the state and national average,” he said. “My mom and dad sit down and talk with me about my scores and how I did.”

The Iowa Assessments will be conducted in the same manner as in the past. However, because of the changes in the test, it will take time for the test developer to gather information to make state and national comparisons. The test developer is currently working on those comparisons and that will be available when the results are given to the district in January.

When will students take the tests?
Valley and Valley Southwoods: Oct. 27 and Nov. 3
Walnut Creek Campus: Nov. 1 and 3
Indian Hills: Oct. 31-Nov. 4
Stilwell: Oct. 31-Nov. 11
Elementary Buildings: Nov. 7-11

How can I help my child(ren) be prepared?

  • Help them get a good night’s sleep prior to the testing.
  • Help them begin the day(s) of testing with a breakfast of some type of protein,  complex carbohydrates (whole grain cereal or bread), and some type of fruit.
  • Talk with them about the test and its importance.

If you have questions, feel free to contact your building administrator.