Catholic Schools Participate in Iowa Assessments
March 30, 2016 | posted by Stephen Chavez
This week, Catholic K-8 schools in the Archdiocese of San Antonio began testing called the Iowa Assessments (IA), formerly the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The Iowa Assessments are norm-referenced exams that measure a student’s achievement and growth across a field of learning standards in grades kinder through eighth. The exam is utilized by every diocese in Texas and helps to identify students’ academic strengths and areas where they may need further growth.
Andrea Gonzalez, PsyD, director of counseling and student services for the Department of Catholic Schools says it’s important to note that the exam is a “snapshot” of a student’s performance at a given testing time. Gonzalez shared that the IA exam is not intended to predict future performance but rather, measure of a child’s current level of achievement in key areas such as reading, writing, math, vocabulary, science and social studies.
Unlike public schools who administer the STAAR exam, which is a criterion-referenced test that requires a certain score to move to the next grade level, the IA exam in Texas Catholic schools is used to help evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum and inform instructional planning.
“It’s important for parents to know and emphasize with their children that the Iowa Assessment is not a pass/fail exam,” said Gonzalez. “Overall, we are focused on individual student growth, the growth of our schools, and of our Archdiocese as a whole, year to year.”
Helen Hargis, director of curriculum & instruction for the Dept. of Catholic Schools offers some quick tips for parents with K-8 students preparing to take the IA in the coming weeks:
- "As always, prepare a well-balanced breakfast for testing days. Studies show that children who eat a healthy breakfast have increased attention span, problem solving skills and improved memory.
- Encourage an earlier bed time than usual during the IA days. Quality sleep is critical to resting the brain after complex tasks such as test taking.
- Anxious feelings before standardized testing is understandable and typical for many students. Let your children know that you believe in them and that you know they will give their best!
- Encourage your student pace themselves during each sub-test, so as to not spend too much time on any one question.
- Encourage your child to exercise as research shows physical activity before exams helps students perform better on tests. Try an activity the evening before such as walking, riding a bike, spending time at the playground, anything to get the kiddos moving."
"Prayers are always helpful as well,” says Hargis.