Iowa Assessments

The Osage Community Schools will annually assess student in grades 3 through 11 with the Iowa Assessments (formerly ITBS or ITED).  It is critical for schools and teachers to measure student academic achievement with the Iowa Assessments.  The Iowa Assessments make this possible by providing detailed information about achievements in content areas including reading, mathematics, and science.

The Iowa Assessments measure student growth and progress from year to year.  In addition, they provide information about each individual students' academic performance relative to their school, the district, and the nation.  This information is then utilized by teachers, administrators, and PLC groups to identify students' areas of strength as well as areas needing additional support.  The data enables sound decision making and will provide each teacher an accurate representation of where their students are and what they need to do lead them in the correct direction.  These assessments assist in the preparation of our students for the next steps of their educational future.

Parents play a vital role in the assessment process.  Parents are strongly encouraged to help students prepare for Iowa Assessments through supporting them at home through a healthy balance between the many facets of their lives (homework, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, friends, proper nutrition and rest.

For more information about the Iowa Assessments, please visit:

The Iowa Assessments have a multitude of purposes outlined below:

  • Assessing the Iowa Core:  A student performs in the areas of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies as defined by the Iowa Core.
  • Proficiency Level Indicators:  A student's proficiency level as defined by the state of Iowa.
  • Growth Indicators:  A student's growth over time.
  • Relative Strengths and Weaknesses:  A student's relative strengths and limitations.
  • Comparing Student Performance to the Nation:  A student's performance relative to other students in the nation.
  • Informing Instruction:  A classroom's performance to help inform changes in instruction.
  • For additional information on "Interpreting Results from the Iowa Assessments"

As always, it is important for all participants and stakeholders to understand the umbrella purpose of the standardized test.  Standardized tests, such as the Iowa Assessments, fall under what is called a Norm-Referenced test.  Norm-referenced tests compare and rank students in a particular grade with other students in that same grade.  By doing this, educators can get a quick snapshot of where their students stand and to what extent their scores deviate from the average or norm.  The content contained on standardized tests is aligned with statewide curriculum standards and vice versa.  If a skill set appears in your content standards, it is reasonable to expect that it will appear on a standardized test.  (Teacher Created Materials,


Understanding the Score Sheet

National Standard Score (NSS)

The National Standard Score, or NSS, describes performance on a continuum from Kindergarten through High School.  The continuum is based on scores from testing thousands of students and determining where students at certain grade levels fall within a range.

The achievement continuum connected with the Iowa Assessments is divided into three categories:  Non Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced.  Using these scores allows teachers, parents, and students to track not only proficiency at a test time, but year to year growth as well.

National Percentile Rank (NPR)

The Iowa Assessments also include a National Percentile Ranking (NPR).  This compares a student's score with others in the nation in the same grade who took the test at the same time of year.  The NPR is based on a scale of 1 to 99, so if a third grade student receives a 75 that means the student did as well or better than 75% of other third graders in the nation taking the test at the same time.

National Grade Equivalent (NGE)

The National Grade Equivalent is a score that describes student performance in terms of grade level and month.  An NGE of 4.5 means the student's socre is similar to that of a student in the 5th month of 4th grade.


Test Taking Tips & Strategies

Lay the Groundwork

  • Attend school regularly and be on time.
  • Come to school prepared, rested, and and ready to learn.
  • Complete all of your classroom and homework assignments.
  • Ask for help if you don't understand.
  • Spend time every day studying and reviewing material.
  • Create an organized and quiet place in which to study.
  • Know that procrastination is the enemy of achievement!

Preparation for a Specific Test

  • Ensure your student is well rested on school days; especially on test days.  Tired children have trouble paying attending in class and struggle with the demands of a test.
  • Ensure your student has more than one No. 2 pencil and a quality eraser available.
  • Talk to your student about any anxieties they may have about the test.
  • Keep with your normal daily routine; make the day as normal as possible.
  • Always remember, it is okay to ask questions if you don't understand the directions.
  • Think positive and be happy!!  A good mindset goes a long ways when it comes to having confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Reading Passages

  • If test that requires you to read a passage and then answer questions about what you read; read the questions first.  Doing this will help you look for what you need while you are reading.
  • If there are several questions about a passage or chart, look for clues in other questions.

Math Passages

  • Often times you will have an opportunity to use scratch paper.  Always double-check to make sure that you have copied the problem down correctly.
  • If your answer does not match one of the choices, re-read the problem, re-copy the number, and try again.

Multiple Choice Questions

  • Always make sure you read the question in its entirety before marking your answer.
  • If you come to a question you don't know the answer to, always eliminate the choices you know are incorrect.  If you can eliminate two incorrect answers your chance of choosing the correct answer is greater.
  • If you can't answer the question at all, make your best guess using the information you have and then move on.
  • Answer the easiest questions first, but make sure to go back and finish those questions you skipped.
  • After you have been through all of the questions, go back and review your answers.  
  • Find key words or phrases in the question that will help you narrow down what the correct answer will be.
  • Make sure you understand the question being asked and then respond to that questions.
  • Answer every question!

Use Your Time Wisely

  • If any time remains at the end of the testing period; go back and look at the questions you struggled with.
  • As you go through your test, don't change your answers unless you are very uncertain about your first choice.  Your first answer is usually right.
  • Be neat, but do not waste time on being perfectly neat.
  • Don't worry if you run out of time!

Final Suggestions

  • Fill in the bubbles fully, write neatly, and erase any unnecessary or stray marks.
  • Every few questions take a moment to double check the question number in your test booklet against the answer sheet to ensure you are not answering the wrong question.
  • If your arms start to get tired during the testing period, relax your grip to give those muscles a break. (However, do not do big arm movements as this is a distraction to others.)
  • If your back begins to ache from slouching over your desk and answer sheet, take a moment to sit up straight and take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Always remember, you won't know everything on these tests.  The tests are meant to have questions that are designed to challenge the limits of your knowledge at grade level as well above your grade level!