Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iowa test to be phased out

March 15, 2007

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills appears to be on its way out as a standard of district assessment, assistant superintendent and curriculum coordinator Don Grosdidier said.

He told the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education at its monthly meeting Thursday the test no longer serves as an accurate reflection of student progress.

"The consensus was it's time to phase out the ITBS," Grosdidier said. "It's not really being used anymore. It costs in terms of time and finances."

It would also be expensive for the district to update its testing criteria for the test, he said.

The district administers the weeklong test to kindergartners, first- and second-graders the week before Thanksgiving break.

In addition to class time, the district budgets $30,000 to administer the ITBS, Grosdidier said.

While phasing out the test, district employees will search for a replacement that more closely aligns with the state assessment objectives, he said. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills is not tied to any state standard, he said.

One possible replacement could be the Measured Academic Progress test, Grosdidier said. The MAP test is a computer-based assessment that would be less time intensive, Grosdidier said.

"It's a possibility of a test we can use as a third leg of say an assessment tool," Grosdidier said.

The MAP test is also normalized on a national scale, but offers more individual results to the district.

"It measures individual growth rather than kids at a certain grade level," Grosdidier said. "The MAP test measures them at their level and it measures their growth over time."

That means if a student reads at a fifth-grade level, the MAP test would continue to test them at a fifth-grade level or higher, he said.

Students would be tested three times a year in 45-minute sessions. The test tailors results to each student by asking them different questions depending on whether the previous question was answered correctly.

Should the district decide to administer the MAP test it would need to dedicate a server specifically for it, Grosdidier said. Grosdidier estimated it would cost the district about the same amount to run the MAP test as it would to update the Iowa test.

"We just need to look into it a little more," Grosdidier said. "It's a fairly new assessment and we need more information on it before we make a decision."

Although the district has yet to find a replacement, the teachers will be pleased with the decision to phase out the Iowa test, Grosdidier said. He heard complaints about class time lost when administering the ITBS.

"Results of assessment should always drive instruction," Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

The district should wait to see whether or not the No Child Left Behind Act will be renewed before it makes a final decision, Grosdidier said.

The earliest change would take effect for the 2008-2009 school year, Grosdidier said.

The board took no action on the report.

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