DES MOINES — Members of the state Board of Education unanimously voted Wednesday to adopt a new state assessment to replace the current state tests in math and reading starting in the 2016-17 school year.
The board adopted state administrative rules to put in place the Smarter Balanced Assessments — one of two exams selected by the U.S. Department of Education — as recommended by an Iowa task force last year to replace the Iowa Assessments tests now used to measure student achievement.
The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee must consider the proposed changes before they take effect.
“We need to know that Iowa students are graduating from high school prepared for success, and this is an important step in the process,” said board president Charles Edwards of Des Moines.
“Years ago, Iowa took the necessary steps to put in place consistent statewide academic standards that outline expectations for what students should know and be able to do,” Edwards said in a statement. “Having a state assessment that is aligned to those standards is critical to understanding whether students are meeting expectations.”
Iowa law requires that a new state assessment must be in place by the 2016-17 school year. Students currently take the Iowa assessments in grades 3-8 and 10-11 in math and reading to meet state and federal accountability laws.
The Smarter Balanced test aligns to common core state standards that set learning goals for K-12 students in Iowa and in most other states.
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The Smarter Balanced Assessments were developed by a consortium of states, including Iowa, guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system aligned to rigorous academic standards can improve teaching and prepare students for success in college and in the workplace, according to the state education department.
Adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessments was the centerpiece of a December 2014 report from the Iowa Assessment Task Force, created by lawmakers in 2013 to study the state’s assessment needs and to make a recommendation. The task force represented Iowa teachers, parents, school administrators, state and regional agencies and associations, parents, business leaders and higher education leaders.