Iowa Core, Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
Information I've gathered:

  • The idea of statewide standards for Iowa's high school students started in 2005.  Between 2005 and 2008, the work expanded into K-8.  (Source)
  • The original Iowa Core essential concepts and skills included math, literacy, science, social studies and 21st century skills.  The skills were broken down into grade bands (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12).  

For the first time, students in Marshalltown were expected to learn the same things as the students in Mason City.  Iowa was the last state in the country to adopt state standards.
  • In 2009, drafts of the common core state standards were released to the public.  These math and literacy standards were a result of a movement initiated by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers (Source)

In summary, Iowa currently has a mix of standards that are state specific and standards other states have also voluntarily adopted.  All of these standards are collectively referred to as the Iowa Core Essential Concepts and Skills.  
  • Math: Common Core State Standards (with several additions), **grade-specific
  • Literacy: Common Core State Standards (with a few additions) **grade-specific
  • Science:  state-specific (however, a task force has recommended Iowa adopts the Next Generation Science Standards), grade bands
  • Social Studies: state-specific, grade bands
  • 21st century skills: state-specific, grade bands
A group is currently lobbying fine arts to be included in the Iowa Core Essential Concepts and Skills as well.  

Smarter Balanced Assessments
Information I've gathered:
  • Iowa Code currently requires Iowa students to take math, science and literacy Iowa Assessments (formerly Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and Iowa Tests of Educational Development) in various grade levels for federal and state accountability requirements. 
  • task force will/may suggest requirements for a new assessment that is better aligned to state standards. 
  • Iowa is a member state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  The Smarter Balanced Assessments are one of two assessments (PARCC is the other) currently being created to assess the common core math and literacy standards.  
  • Any new assessment(s) resulting from the task force's recommendations could be Smarter Balanced Assessments, a new form of Iowa Assessments or something totally different (or we could stick with current Iowa Assessments Form E.)  (See Twitter conversation below)
  • The task force is scheduled to meet through at least August 2014.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessments will be ready for 2014-15, so Iowa school districts would need to know at minimum prior to the beginning of the school year if they were required to use it.  
In October, I had a Twitter conversation about the Smarter Balanced Assessments with Dr. Brad Buck, Director of the Iowa Department of Education.

Looking ahead: Scenarios and questions 
  • It seems extremely likely Iowa schools will be administering Iowa Assessments during 2014-15 even though Iowa is member state in SBAC. 
  • Is it possible Iowa might require the Smarter Balanced Assessments for math OR literacy, but not both?  (This one seems really out in left field)
  • In the future, if Iowa were require students to take the Smarter Balanced Assessments rather than Iowa Assessments for math and literacy accountability, would Iowa Assessments still be required for science accountability?
  • If Iowa Assessments were phased out in favor of a new assessment, how would student "growth" be measured using the Iowa Assessments and a new test? 
  • Assuming Next Generation Science Standards are adopted by the state of Iowa, will the Iowa Assessments science test change as well?  Will a new science assessment at the national level be created that is more closely aligned with NGSS?


**CCSS math standards are broken down by grade level in grades K-8, however they are grouped together as one 9-12 grade band.  CCSS literacy standards are broken down by grade level in grades K-8, however 9-10 and 11-12 are grouped together as grade bands rather than by individual grades.