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Iowa Test coming right up

Dale Thompson Of the Record staff

Third, fifth, eighth and eleventh graders need to sharpen their pencils.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills will be administered in the Park City School District during the coming weeks.

"The Iowa Test is an opportunity to take a snapshot of the skills our students have at different grade levels," said Human Resources Director Tim McConnell.

It also allows the district to compare their students against others across the state and nation.

Students are tested in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies. Last year the Park City School District scored higher than the state and national average. (See graphic.)

McConnell attributes this to quality teachers, support at home and early interventions.

For those students in third, fifth and eighth grade the test lasts 150 minutes and is usually spread over three to five days. For eleventh graders the test lasts 240 minutes and is typically spread over two or three days, McConnell said.

Each school is administering the test at different times in the coming weeks.

"Everything has to be wrapped up, including any make-up tests, by Oct. 6," McConnell said.

The Iowa Test is not one that needs to be studied for.

"I’m not sure there is anything specific they need to do to prepare. If they have been actively engaged in the instruction up to this point and they are rested they should perform fine," McConnell said.

This is the fourth year the district has administered the test. Prior to that, the state used the Stanford Achievement Test. The state later determined it was more cost effective to use the Iowa Test, which must be used through 2008. At that point in time the state may ask for bids on another standardized test similar to the Iowa, McConnell said.

Accommodations are made for English language learners and those in special education. McConnell noted that English language learners who are in their first years of becoming familiar with English are not required to take the test.

Unlike some of the other tests administered in the state, there are no penalties for not performing well on the Iowa Test.

"It’s not a high stakes test, there is nothing specifically tied to the Iowa test," McConnell said.

The Iowa Test is one more measure of student performance in the Park City School District. Among others, students must also take the Utah Basic Skills Test and the Criterion-Referenced Test. McConnell said he does not believe the number of tests students are required to take make them feel inundated.

"I’m not sure that they’re inundated, I’m just concerned that too much emphasis might be placed on that," McConnell said.

He added that he appreciates the district places emphasis on other areas such as the arts and technical education.


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