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Iowa Assessments K-12 Achievement Assessments

Spotlight on Iowa Assessments: Norm-Referenced and Criterion-Referenced Interpretations

Catherine Welch, Ph.D
Written By Catherine Welch, Ph.D
On Jun 12, 2019
1 minute read

The purposes of achievement testing are diverse and varied, but the common denominator to all purposes is information. Tests may be formative or summative, they may be based on defined domains or captured through a normative comparison, and they may be captured in daily classroom or in a more standardized testing environment.

But, underneath it all, effective achievement testing is designed to provide sound, accurate and
actionable information for its users. An effective achievement test may successfully provide evidence to support one or more of its articulated purposes of testing. An effective achievement test must also be designed to support inferences about all articulated purposes and must strike a delicate balance among many complementary and sometimes competing and conflicting purposes and uses.

The purposes served by the Iowa Assessments™ are diverse and varied. Figure 1 articulates many of the more common purposes. This document addresses four major purposes served by the Iowa Assessments: tracking student readiness, measuring student-level outcomes, monitoring student growth, and making relative comparisons about a student’s performance.

Achievement measures like the Iowa Assessments have been developed to inform instruction at the classroom level but can do much more than that. Indeed, the purposes supported by the Iowa
Assessments cross with two primary types of interpretations. These two interpretations allow users to make decisions across classrooms, schools, or states and support claims for the validity of score interpretations.

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