All students in the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools participate in a variety of formal and informal academic assessments to determine depths of learning and achievement of objectives as outlined in each subject’s curriculum. The Iowa Assessments (formally known as IOWA Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) is a standardized assessment used system-wide. Standardized achievement tests or norm referenced tests such as the IOWA Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) are most effective when used to compare the progress of a single student over a period of several years. They may also be used to compare what students know to the knowledge of a normative group of students. Norm referenced tests measure what students know, not necessarily what they have learned in school. A student’s knowledge is influenced by past experiences, the education level of the parents, the household income level, how many books may be found in the home, and cultural backgrounds, among other things. Students should grow one full grade level for each year they are in school simply because they are a year older. Research is beginning to show that student progress on these tests of more than a year may be attributed to the effectiveness of the teacher and the quality of the school experience.
It is possible to compare the average scores of a class of students to their previous scores with some reliability. The analysis is valid in as much as the composition of the class and the size of the population remained the same, and other variables are kept to a minimum. It is also useful to compare class scores to the norm for that grade level to assess how what our students know measures up to what the students in the norming group knows.
Grade level equivalents are used in reporting scores in this report. Students in the Archdiocese of Denver take the ITBS in the middle of the year and are compared to the mid-year norms. The grade equivalent is reported using the grade of the student followed by the number of months he has been in that grade. A mid-year 5th grader would be reported as 5.5 or 5th year, 5th month. That is the Grade Equivalent used at the left side of each of these graphs to show where a “normal” student of this grade would score on the various subtests. If a Grade Equivalent score is more than three years above grade level, it is considered unreliable as a grade level and is used to demonstrate a significant departure from the norm. All students in second through eighth grade in the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Denver take the ITBS.
Beginning in 2014, students take the Iowa Assessments (IA) an updated and revised version of the former ITBS. The 2014 scores represent new base line data. These scores should not be compared to earlier ITBS scores.
How do we compare with public schools in Colorado?