Interpreting Your Child’s Iowa Assessment Scores

A new set of tests, a new way to look at student achievement

This spring, Waterloo students took the new Iowa Assessments test for the first time.  As you may be aware, in 2011-2012, the new Iowa Assessments test replaced the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED).   The Iowa Assessments offer new and different data, and because of this, you may need information to assist you in interpreting your student’s scores.  The Iowa Assessments will provide valuable information about the yearly academic growth of students. It will also provide strong indicators of college readiness.  Student academic growth is monitored based on something called a “standard score”.  Interpreting Iowa Assessment Results

Don’t Compare

The results from the Iowa Assessments will look different than what most parents will be familiar with from the ITBS and ITED and there’s a reason for that –they are different! The Iowa Assessments are different tests, with new and rewritten questions. To compare results on last year’s ITBS and this year’s Iowa Assessments would not provide an accurate comparison. To put it simply, it’s comparing apples to oranges.

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.

National Percentile Ranking (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 an 75 that means the student did as well or better than 75 percent of other third graders in the nation taking the test at the same time.

In past years this NPR has been the more important score on the ITBS or ITED. With the switch to the new Iowa Assessments the NSS will be the more important indicator of student achievement, as it will be easier to track one student’s growth year to year, instead of compared to other students.

Learn More

For more about the Iowa Assessments, please visit the Iowa Testing Programs at the University of Iowa’s College of Education at


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