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The Iowa Tests: The Iowa Assessments® & The Iowa Test of Basic Skills® (ITBS®)

The University of Iowa makes several achievement tests under the umbrella of “The Iowa Testing Programs.” All of the assessments are developed at the University of Iowa and, despite the name, they’re not just given to children living in Iowa. Instead, many states and private schools administer Iowa Tests. The two most commonly-given Iowa Tests are the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Assessments. Both are achievement tests meaning that they assess a child’s knowledge of what they have learned in school; they are not  cognitive or IQ tests.

What are the Iowa Tests Used for?

The Iowa Assessments are frequently used to test for admissions into gifted and talented or accelerated learning programs. They are often used in conjunction with cognitive tests, like the NNAT ® or CogAT ®, to get a complete picture of a student’s accomplishments and potential. Schools may also give a creativity test, such as the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking ®.

What is the difference between the Iowa Assessments and ITBS?

The Iowa Assessments were released in 2012 as a replacement for the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. The Iowa Assessments were created to sync with Common Core State Standards and, beginning at the 6th-grade level, assess college and career readiness.

The Iowa Assessments can be given via paper/pencil where the student will either answer in separate booklet or directly on the test. The test can also be administered online. The method of administration varies from school to school. Be sure to check with your child’s school to find out how they will be giving the test.

The Iowa Tests of Basic Skills are not aligned with Common Core and only go through the 8th grade (level 14). Even though there have been no updated versions of the ITBS released since approximately 2011, the test is still being published and is in use today by many school districts across the country.

History of the ITBS and Iowa Assessments

The ITBS was the original Iowa Achievement Test. It was developed in 1935 and was originally called “Iowa Every Pupil Test of Basic Skills.” Over 80 years later, more-recent editions of the ITBS are still being used today as a tool to monitor and track student progress over time.

There were several people involved in the development of the Iowa:

  • Everett Franklin Lindquist
  • Harry Greene
  • Ernest Horn
  • Maude McBroom
  • Herbert Spitzer

Homeschooling and the Iowa Assessments

Homeschooling families can also use the Iowa Assessments and the ITBS to confirm a child’s learning progress, since the test is sufficient to meet state homeschooling requirements.