Waukee Schools tie Iowa Assessment to Class Registration

In an email this week, Waukee parents received the following information regarding Iowa Assessments:

It is Iowa Assessment time! Thank you for working with your son/daughter to make sure they are well rested and fed before these important assessments. Here are some reasons to consider the importance of the assessments:

1. The results are feedback on our students’ academic progress.
2. The results are reported to the State of Iowa and United States government for building and district accountability.
3. One of the requirements for placement in concurrent (high school & college) credit courses is that students are proficient with their most recent Iowa Assessment scores. The results directly impact what courses they can or cannot register for in 2015-16 at Waukee High School or through DMACC.

As a Waukee parent, I have some questions about this policy. Why is Waukee placing such importance on a standardized test? Is an Iowa Assessment score a required measuring stick for registration for these classes? These tests are a snapshot of how a student does at a moment in time on a few given days out of the school year. The Iowa Assessment tests how well the child does on that test, not necessarily how much they know in that subject.

More importantly, Waukee’s policy coerces parents into allowing their child take the test when they otherwise would have refused the test. Registration for classes should be based on the child’s ability to handle those classes and that can be measured in a variety of ways. Schools need to be more flexible in their methods in determining admittance into a given class or program. How many students are excluded from educational opportunities because they had a bad test day, have test anxiety or have a learning disability that prevents them from doing well on the test even though they could excel in a given class or program?

The test results (good or bad) are “reported to the State of Iowa and United States government.” Who has access to this information, what are they doing with it and how long do these test results “follow” the students? What happens if Iowa switches to the Smarter Balanced test? The test has already proven itself to have all sorts of problems including a lower proficiency rate. We can do better. To borrow a term from progressive educators, schools might want to “unpack” these assessments and take a second look at how much of our children’s futures should be determined by a standardized test.


  1. Rick Langel says:

    Ankeny is doing something similar, I opted my kids out of standardized tests, but got a letter from the district saying that my 7th grader might not be considered for advanced classes with an Iowa Assessments score. Well, that’s illegal, as it’s discrimination.

  2. According to page 9 of the DOE’s own eligibility guide, proficiency in the subject matter is required, however it is ultimately up to the local school boards on how to determine that. Most use the ITBS to measure, but it is NOT a legal requirement.


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