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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I purchase older versions of the tests so we can get a better idea of what the ITBS measures and have my child practice on the old test to improve his/her scores?
A: Using old tests to improve scores is not a recommended practice. It will not help your child handle some new skills measured on the new forms of the test.
Your school or home-school provider may be able to supply you with information that is available in one of the current manuals about the kinds of skills measured by the current test. The Message to Parents and/or Practice Tests provide additional information about the tests and the format of the test items. The main purpose of the Practice Tests is to provide information to students about the item formats and the marking procedures. Consequently, they do not provide examples of the full array of skills measured, especially the higher-order skills.
Q: What test preparation booklets can help improve my child's test scores the most?
A: There are some test-preparation products, such as Test for Success which focus students' test-taking strategies on developing a wide range of skills. These are probably most useful as supplements to the regular instructional program and the overall preparation for testing. Several years ago an article by W. A. Mehrens and J. Kaminski ("Methods for Improving Standardized Test Scores: Fruitful, Fruitless, or Fraudulent?" Educational Measurement: Issues and Practices, 8 (1), 14-22, Spring, 1989), reviewed test preparation practices used in some schools. The broad-based, generic test preparation practices were deemed acceptable. Practices such as using old forms or products developed to "raise scores" in specific achievement tests were deemed less acceptable or inappropriate.
Q: What are some ways to improve students' basic skills?
A: The ITBS and ITED Interpretive Guide for Teachers and Counselors have many suggestions for the educational development of students. For example, Part 5 of the ITBS manual has fifteen pages of specific suggestions for developing skills for all of the tests in the Complete Battery edition of the ITBS and Part 8 contains a bibliography of selected supplemental instructional resources.
Here are some suggestions we would add for parents.
- Discuss possible out-of-school activities with your child's teacher(s) or your home-school resource person. Select activities that will help your child build on relative strengths and remediate areas of relative need. Just as the very accomplished youngster can be challenged with new materials, even the most educationally disadvantaged child has relative strengths to build on.
- Check with the local library about resources available for learning. For very young children, reading groups provide an avenue for learning and social interaction with other children and nonparent/guardian adults. Libraries have computers on which interactive computer disks can expose children as young as ages 2 or 3 to a broad range of activities and help develop hand-eye coordination. Many of these interactive computer disks are available on loan to use at home. Educational video disks and recordings are also rich resources for vocabulary development, the development of a wide range of listening, speaking, and reading skills, and the development of skills in mathematics, social studies, science, music, literature, and writing.
- Encourage the viewing of entertaining and informative TV programs to broaden your child's knowledge and interests. The History, Discovery, and a number of special channels have excellent programs. For example, programming for public television stations provide excellent learning opportunities for children of all ages.
Avoid the excessive use of rote learning materials. A balanced reading program that integrates phonics with the written and spoken word will help children become successful readers and writers. Mathematics programs that focus on concepts and problem-solving and integrate these skills with the necessary computational skills are much more likely to improve children's mathematical skills than rote computation activities. Language programs that integrate language conventions--spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and usage--with writing and similar learning programs in science and social studies also promote real learning.
Q: Is there a correlation between the results of the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) and the results of The Iowa Tests?
A: Tables of correlations are available in the CogAT Research Handbook. Average correlations with the ITBS Composite score are 0.83 for the Verbal Battery, 0.77 for the Quantitative Battery, and 0.71 for the Nonverbal Battery. For ITED average correlations with the Composite score are 0.84 for the Verbal Battery, 0.75 for the Quantitative Battery, and 0.70 for the Nonverbal Battery.
Q: Are there circumstances when makeup testing or retesting is advisable? If so, what are some of the most common reasons for makeup testing or retesting?
A: When students have been absent from testing or when errors have been made in marking or following directions, makeup tests should probably be given. Here are some other examples of students who should be considered for makeup testing:
- A student who was absent from school for any reason during a testing period;
- A student whose pattern of responses indicates a lack of understanding for the directions to a test (e.g., the last response is always marked, multiple responses to questions are frequent, or few questions are marked).
Q: What is the best way to prepare for taking a test like the ITBS or ITED or other Riverside Publishing achievement tests?
A: The best preparation for taking any achievement test is concentrated effort related to classroom activities, completion of homework, engaging in activities beyond assigned homework, and undertaking a wide variety of projects which will improve the depth and breadth of a student's knowledge.
The ITBS measures basic skills that range from facts and conventions through higher-order skills, not just minimum skills. Since The Iowa Tests were conceived nearly sixty years ago, the authors have consistently defined "basic skills" as a wide range of skills including applying information, making inferences, evaluating, explaining, and other higher-order skills. By grade 8, over half of the ITBS test questions measure these higher-order skills. In grades 9-12, ITED focuses primarily on these advanced skills. Therefore, home and school activities need to include a wide range of basic skills appropriate to the child's age/grade.