Deciphering Test Levels and Their Purpose
In terms of testing skills, development divides into two primary groups for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Homeschool families should therefore determine where their child falls in terms of their own skill development and prepare for testing accordingly. The first group encompasses Levels 5-8, while the second encompasses Levels 9-14. The primary division between levels is the ability to read and write independently. Levels 5-6 are intended for students in kindergarten to first grade. Levels 7-8 are for students up to second grade. Levels 9-14 are used once students are able to read and perform in more traditional test settings. These levels are recommended for grades 3 and higher.
Levels 5-8 test students on listening vocabulary skills, where students match pictures to spoken words. There is limited reading comprehension testing only in Levels 6 or higher, most with pictorial cues. Math skill assessments are limited in Levels 5 and 6, and cover basic numbering and sequencing, with students progressing to simple word problems in Levels 7 and 8. There are no Science or Social Studies skill assessments until students reach Level 7 testing. As with other skill areas, students are given oral questions and select pictorial or numeric answers.
Levels 9-14 graduate in complexity as students’ skills develop, beginning in the third grade and culminating in the eighth grade. At this level, it is assumed students are able to read as well as write. Therefore, reading comprehension, spelling, proper grammar including capitalization, punctuation, and other language arts skills are tested appropriately. Likewise, the ability to compute mathematical problems, use math skills to estimate, problem solve, and interpret data is tested with increasing complexity for each level. Science and Social Studies test students’ ability to read and decipher maps, diagrams and other reference material. In terms of Science, students must demonstrate the ability to infer and hypothesize using basic scientific principles.