top of page

Iowa Tests

Iowa Tests

The Iowa Assessments offer educators a diagnostic look at how their students are performing in core academic areas.

First developed and administered by the University of Iowa in the 1930’s, this standardized test is now used nationally by public and private schools.  The Iowa Assessments offer educators a diagnostic look at how their students are performing in core academic areas, and offers useful data for making intervention decisions and to influence curricular and instructional choices.  These assessments provide a national comparison of student achievement and provide individual percentile rankings based on national norms.  These standardized tests are used by many parochial schools across the country.  



The Vocabulary test assesses students' breadth of vocabulary and is a useful indicator of overall verbal ability. At all levels, words tested represent general vocabulary rather than the specialized vocabulary used in subject matter areas.

Word Analysis

In grades K - 3, the Word Analysis test assesses students' phonological awareness and understanding of word parts.


In grades K - 3, the Listening test contains short scenarios followed by comprehension questions, all presented orally. The test not only measures literal understanding, such as how well students follow directions or visualize objects, but also the ability to make inferences, understand concepts and sequences, and predict outcomes.

Reading Comprehension

The ITBS assesses students' capabilities at all stages of their development as readers. At Kindergarten, the Reading test measures students' ability to read words in isolation and to use context and picture cues for word identification. There are also sentence and story comprehension questions.

The tests at 1st and 2nd grade levels include a variety of reading tasks. Students answer questions about a picture that tells a story. They also demonstrate their comprehension of sentences and stories.

At grades 3 - 8, each test consists of reading passages of varying length and difficulty.

Variety in the test materials makes it possible for students' scores to be generalized over a broad range of reading purposes and content.

Test items assess three types of understanding. Factual questions tap students' literal understanding of what is stated in the text. Inferential/interpretive questions require students to read between the lines to demonstrate their understanding of what is implied. Analysis and generalization questions require students to "step back from" the text to generalize about a passage's main points or ideas or to analyze aspects of the author's viewpoint or use of language.


The Kindergarten Language sections measure students' understanding of how language is used to express ideas.

At Grades 1 and 2, the teacher reads one or more sentences aloud while the students look for a mistake in either spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or usage.

The Language tests at Grades 3 - 8 measure students' skill in using the conventions of standard written English. The tests constitute a thorough sampling of skills in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, and written expression.


In accordance with the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Math tests at all levels do much more than assess skill in solving numerical problems.


The tests emphasize the ability to do quantitative reasoning and to think mathematically in a wide variety of contexts.

The Kindergarten tests assess students' knowledge of beginning math concepts, focusing on numeration, geometry, measurement, and problem solving using addition and subtraction. All questions are presented orally; responses are pictures or numerals.

At Grades 1 - 8, there are three separate tests. The Math Concepts test requires students to demonstrate their understanding of fundamental ideas in the areas of number properties and operations, geometry, measurement, algebra, probability and statistics, and estimation.


At Grades 3 -8, the separately timed Estimation section tests mental arithmetic, number sense, and various estimation skills such as rounding.

The second test, called Math Problems at Grades 1 & 2 and Problem Solving and Data Interpretation at Grades 3 - 8, includes word problems that require one or more steps to solve. In many cases, students select an appropriate method or approach, rather than compute an answer.


At Grades 3 - 8, several real-world "stories" form the basis for sets of three to four problems, each requiring somewhat different skills to solve. Grades 1 - 8 also include data displays such as tables and graphs. Students use them to obtain information, compare quantities, and determine trends or relationships.

Each problem in the third test, Math Computation, requires one arithmetic operation – addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The problems require operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and various combinations of these, depending on the test level.

bottom of page