Iowa Tests of Basic Skills® Forms A, B, and C

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    Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Forms A, B, and C


    Leveraging over 80 years of research, the ITBS provides educators with measurement they can trust. The Iowa Tests offer educators a diagnostic look at how their students are progressing in key academic areas, and offers diagnostic data that can be used to create intervention groups and to drive curricular decisions.

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    • Tests - Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) Forms A, B, and C


      The Vocabulary test assesses students' breadth of vocabulary and is a useful indicator of overall verbal ability. At Levels 5 and 6, the focus is on listening vocabulary. Students hear a word, sometimes used in a sentence, and they choose one of three pictures. Levels 7 and 8 measure reading vocabulary. A picture or written word is followed by a set of written responses. At Levels 9 through 14, each question presents a word in the context of a short phrase or sentence. Students select the answer that has the same meaning as the target word. At all levels, words tested represent general vocabulary rather than the specialized vocabulary used in subject matter areas.

      Word Analysis

      Available at Levels 5 through 9, the Word Analysis test assesses students' phonological awareness and understanding of word parts. At Levels 5 and 6, the focus is on letter identification and letter-sound relationships. All responses are letters or pictures at Level 5, while Level 6 introduces some word responses. Levels 7 through 9 also include basic letter-sound questions, but more complex word-building tasks involving affixes and compound words are introduced at these levels as well.


      Available at Levels 5 through 9, the Listening test contains short scenarios followed by comprehension questions, all presented orally. The test not only measures literal understanding, such as how well students follow directions or visualize objects, but also the ability to make inferences, understand concepts and sequences, and predict outcomes.

      Reading Comprehension

      The ITBS assesses students' capabilities at all stages of their development as readers. At Level 6 the Reading test measures students' ability to read words in isolation and to use context and picture cues for word identification. There are also sentence and story comprehension questions.

      The tests at Levels 7 and 8 include a variety of reading tasks. Students answer questions about a picture that tells a story. They also demonstrate their comprehension of sentences and stories.

      At Levels 9 through 14, each test consists of reading passages of varying length and difficulty. At each test level, there is at least one narrative, a poem, and one passage about a science and social studies topic.

      Fiction, folk tales, an essay, biographical sketches, a "how-to" piece, an editorial, and expository nonfiction round out the selections. Some passages are excerpts from previously published works, while others have been commissioned for The Iowa Tests™.

      Variety in the test materials makes it possible for students' scores to be generalized over a broad range of reading purposes and content.

      Test items assess three types of understanding. Factual questions tap students' literal understanding of what is stated in the text. Inferential/interpretive questions require students to read between the lines to demonstrate their understanding of what is implied. Analysis and generalization questions require students to "step back from" the text to generalize about a passage's main points or ideas or to analyze aspects of the author's viewpoint or use of language.

      The Reading Comprehension test at Levels 9 through 14 is administered in two separate testing periods of 25 and 30 minutes. By reducing fatigue, this two-session format increases motivation, helps maintain test takers' focus, and results in dependable scores.

      To diagnose individual and class needs, the new Primary Reading Profile, available at Levels 5 through 9, combines information from all the literacy-related tests into a single report. Overall test scores as well as skill scores in Vocabulary, Word Analysis, and Listening are presented on the Levels 5 through 9 profiles. At Levels 6 through 9, Reading test scores are included, and Spelling scores are included at Levels 7 through 9.


      The Language tests at Levels 5 and 6 measure students' understanding of how language is used to express ideas. Skills assessed include the use of prepositions, comparatives and superlatives, and singular-plural distinctions. Questions are presented orally as scenarios; students choose one of three picture responses.

      At Levels 7 and 8, the teacher reads one or more sentences aloud while the students look for a mistake in either spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or usage. The items at these levels represent a bridge between the emphasis on oral language in Levels 5 and 6 and an emphasis on written language in Levels 9 through 14.

      The Language tests at Levels 9 through 14 measure students' skill in using the conventions of standard written English. The tests constitute a thorough sampling of skills in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, and written expression.

      Separate scores are reported in each area, and detailed diagnostic reports of strengths and needs are possible because of the content coverage afforded by separate tests.

      At Levels 9 through 14, the Spelling questions offer four words, one of which may be misspelled, and a fifth "No Mistakes" option. The Capitalization, Punctuation, and Usage and Expression tests present brief written contexts, asking students to identify which line, if any, contains an error. In the Usage and Expression test, students also read stories and are asked to choose the most effective way to express ideas, organize paragraphs, or write an opening, transitional, or concluding sentence or paragraph.


      In accordance with the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Math tests at all levels do much more than assess skill in solving numerical problems. The tests emphasize the ability to do quantitative reasoning and to think mathematically in a wide variety of contexts.

      The tests at Levels 5 and 6 assess students' knowledge of beginning math concepts, focusing on numeration, geometry, measurement, and problem solving using addition and subtraction. All questions are presented orally; responses are pictures or numerals.

      At Levels 7 through 14, there are three separate tests. The first is called Math Concepts at Levels 7 and 8 and Math Concepts and Estimation at Levels 9 through 14. This test requires students to demonstrate their understanding of fundamental ideas in the areas of number properties and operations, geometry, measurement, algebra, probability and statistics, and estimation. At Levels 9 through 14, the separately timed Estimation section tests mental arithmetic, number sense, and various estimation skills such as rounding.

      The second test, called Math Problems at Levels 7 and 8 and Problem Solving and Data Interpretation at Levels 9 through 14, includes word problems that require one or more steps to solve. In many cases, students select an appropriate method or approach, rather than compute an answer. At Levels 9 through 14, several real-world "stories" form the basis for sets of three to four problems, each requiring somewhat different skills to solve. Levels 7 through 14 also include data displays such as tables and graphs. Students use them to obtain information, compare quantities, and determine trends or relationships.

      Each problem in the third test, Math Computation, requires one arithmetic operation – addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The problems require operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and various combinations of these, depending on the test level.

      Students must work a problem and compare their answer with the choices given. The last answer option is "N," meaning the correct answer is "Not given."

      At levels 7 and 8, all Math tests, except for the last portion of the Computation test, are presented orally.

      At Levels 9 through 14, calculators may be used on the Concepts portion of the Concepts and Estimation test and on the Problem Solving and Data Interpretation test.

      Social Studies

      The Social Studies tests at Levels 7 through 14 measure objectives of the social studies curriculum not measured elsewhere in the ITBS battery. At Levels 7 and 8, all questions are presented orally, and students select a picture response. At Levels 9 through 14, a number of questions ask students to respond to materials such as political cartoons, graphs or charts on social data, timelines, or excerpts from historical texts. The content of the questions is drawn from the ten thematic strands identified by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and covers four broad areas:

      • History — Culture, time, continuity, and change
      • Geography — People, places, and environments; global connections
      • Economics — Production, distribution, and consumption; science, technology, and society; global connections
      • Government and society — Power, authority, and governance; civic ideals and practices; individual development and identity; individuals, groups, and institutions


      The Science tests at all levels assess not only students' knowledge of scientific principles and information but also the methods and processes of scientific inquiry, in accordance with the recommendations of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). At Levels 7 and 8, all questions are presented orally and response choices are pictures. Included in Levels 9 through 14 are scenarios presenting real-life science investigations with questions emphasizing the thought processes used in designing and conducting research and in analyzing data.

      The four major content areas covered in the Science tests are:

      • Scientific inquiry — Methods of science; analysis and interpretation of data
      • Life science — Structures and life cycles of living things; environmental interactions
      • Earth and space science — Earth's composition and structure and its changes; the universe
      • Physical science — Forces and motion; energy; properties of and changes in matter

      Sources of Information

      These tests measure students' abilities to use information resources and to judge their usefulness. At Levels 7 and 8, a single Sources of Information test assesses students' skills in alphabetizing and in using picture dictionaries, tables of contents, and maps. All questions are read aloud by the teacher.

      At Levels 9 through 14, there are two separate tests: Maps and Diagrams and Reference Materials. In the Maps and Diagrams test, students demonstrate their ability to use visual materials such as maps, tables, charts, and schematic diagrams. Skills tested include locating information, interpreting it, and analyzing it in order to draw conclusions.

      The Reference Materials test focuses on the skills and search strategies needed to obtain information from various sources. At the lower test levels, students are asked to alphabetize and to use a table of contents, while at higher levels note taking and using an index are assessed. At all levels there is an emphasis on strategies for gathering information and on the thoughtful selection of reference sources, including judging the quality of research results. The test has been designed to assess skills, such as the selection of keywords, that are important when using both electronic and traditional reference sources.

    • Levels - Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) Forms A, B, and C

      The Iowa Tests of Basic Skills span ten articulated levels appropriate for use at Kindergarten through Grade 8. The ITBS test levels are vertically scaled and co-normed with the ITED® high school achievement battery, providing schools the opportunity to trace student achievement growth on a continuous scale from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

      Levels 5 and 6

      Levels 5 and 6 of the ITBS include the following tests:

      • Vocabulary
      • Word Analysis
      • Listening
      • Mathematics
      • Reading
        • Words
        • Comprehension

      Levels 5 and 6 of the ITBS are designed to be developmentally appropriate for young children. All tests are untimed and, except for the Reading test, are read aloud by the teacher. Appealing, open pages with large picture responses engage students' interest, and simple line drawings of everyday objects at the tops of pages help students keep their places in the test booklets. Students mark their responses under the answer choices in the machine-scorable booklets.

      Levels 7 and 8

      The Complete Battery at Levels 7 and 8 assesses a broad array of skills in eleven tests:

      • Vocabulary
      • Word Analysis
      • Reading
      • Listening
      • Language (includes Spelling)
      • Word Concepts
      • Math Problems
      • Math Computation
      • Social Studies
      • Science
      • Sources of Information

      The Core Battery contains all tests in the Complete Battery except Social Studies, Science, and Sources of Information. At Levels 7 through 9, the Core Battery includes Listening and Word Analysis. The Survey Battery includes a representative set of items from the Core Battery tests in Vocabulary, Reading, Language, and Mathematics.

      All tests at Levels 7 and 8, with the exception of Vocabulary and Reading, are orally administered. Students mark their answers in the machine-scorable booklets.

      Levels 9–14

      The ITBS Complete Battery assesses student achievement in Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Language, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Sources of Information. Language consists of four separately timed tests: Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, and Usage and Expression. Similarly, Math has three tests: Concepts and Estimation, Problem Solving and Data Interpretation, and Computation. Students' abilities to effectively use Sources of Information are assessed by two tests: Maps and Diagrams and Reference Materials. Word Analysis and Listening tests are included at Level 9.

      The Core Battery contains all tests except Social Studies, Science, and the two Sources of Information tests. The Survey Battery contains 30-minute Reading, Language, and Mathematics tests that are comparable in content to the corresponding tests of the Complete Battery.

      Test booklets for all levels are reusable; however, a machine-scorable booklet is available at Level 9.

    • Administration - Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) Forms A, B, and C

      Time limits for each test in the ITBS were carefully determined to yield maximum information on achievement in time blocks that promote student concentration and limit distractibility. No timed session exceeds 30 minutes.

      Table 1: Working Times/Number of Items for the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Form A Complete, Core, and Survey Batteries

      Grade: K.1 - 1.5 K.7 - 1.9 1.7 - 2.4 2.5 - 3.5 3 4 5 6 7 8
      Test Level: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
      Test Number of Items Time1 Number of Items Time1 Number of Items Time1
      Practice Questions
      Vocabulary 29 31 20 30 32 15 29 34 37 39 41 42 15
      Word Analysis 30 35 20 35 38 15 352 202
      Listening 29 31 30 31 31 25 312 252
      Reading/Reading Comprehension2 484 34 38 37 41 43 45 48 52
      Session 1 23 15 25
      Session 2 20 20 30
      Language 29 31 25 34 42 30
      Spelling 233 233 28 32 36 38 40 42 12
      Capitalization 24 26 28 30 32 34 12
      Punctuation 24 26 28 30 32 34 12
      Usage and Expression 30 33 35 38 40 43 30
      Mathematics 29 35 25
      Math Concepts and Estimation5 29 31 20 31 36 40 43 46 49 25 + 55
      Math Problem Solving and Data Interpretation 28 30 25 22 24 26 28 30 32 30
      Math Computation 27 30 20 25 27 29 30 31 32 15
      Total Core Battery 146 211 130 260 284 185 250 279 302 321 340 360 211
      Social Studies 31 31 25 30 34 37 39 41 43 30
      Science 31 31 25 30 34 37 39 41 43 30
      Sources of Information 22 28 30
      Maps and Diagrams 24 25 26 28 30 31 30
      Reference Materials 28 30 32 34 36 38 25
      Total Complete Battery 146 211 130 344 374 265 362 402 434 461 488 515 326
      Test Number of Items Time1 Number of Items Time1
      Reading 40 44 30 27 30 32 34 36 37 30
      Vocabulary 18 19 10 10 11 12 13 14 14 5
      Comprehension 5(4)6 17 19 20 21 22 23 25
      Pictures 9 7 5(4)
      Sentences 6 6 10(13)
      Stories 7 12 7
      Language 34 42 25 43 47 51 54 57 59 30
      Spelling 11 11
      Capitalization 5 7
      Punctuation 5 7
      Usage and Expression 13 17
      Mathematics 40 50 30 31 34 37 40 43 46 30
      Math Concepts and Estimation5 27 33 10 19 21 23 25 27 29 22
      Math Problem Solving and Data Interpretation 12 4 4 5 5 6 6 3
      Math Computation 13 17 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 5
      Total Survey Battery 114 135 85 101 111 120 128 136 142 90

      Technical Qualities

      The ITBS consist of a variety of educational achievement instruments developed by the faculty and professional staff at Iowa Testing Programs at The University of Iowa. They enjoy a history of development that has been an integral part of the research program in educational measurement at The University of Iowa for the past 80 years.

      Detailed technical information on the ITBS can be found in the Guide to Research and Development for the ITBS, which is available for purchase.

      Check out the ITBS order form for ordering and pricing information.

    • Resources - Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) Forms A, B, and C

      HMH wants to ensure your local testing program is smooth and efficient. A variety of resources are available to help you manage your testing program, and communicate effectively with families.

      Pre-Test Resources

      The Test Coordinator Guide for The Iowa Tests provides information for building and district test coordinators about all aspects of using the ITBS. It is available on CD-ROM in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

      Practice Tests are available to help familiarize students with the overall structure and format of the ITBS.

      A Message to Parents is a special pamphlet that informs families about the ITBS questions and test format, and explains how test results will be used by the school. A Spanish version (Mensaje a los padres) is also available.

      Post-Test Resources

      Pre/Post Test Workshop Video for The Iowa Tests is a 27 minute training video divided into four sections: Overview, Preparation for Testing, Preparation for Scoring, and Interpreting Scores and Using Reports. This DVD version includes an additional section designed for parents.

      Report to Students and Parents is a special pamphlet that helps families understanding their child’s test results. It is designed to be sent home in conjunction with individual student results. A Spanish version (Reporte para estudiantes y padres) is also available.


      The Interpretative Guide for Teachers and Counselors focuses on the use of test results to help improve student achievement. It contains samples of individual and group score reports, along with suggestions for reporting results to students and parents.

      The Interpretative Guide for School Administrators provides suggestions for using test results in curriculum planning and reporting test results to families, school officials and the community.

  • Scoring

    The ITBS can be scored by hand or scored centrally through the HMH Scoring Service®.

    View and print your order form here:

    Scoring Options and Price Information

    Back to Scoring Services

    Central Scoring

    The HMH Scoring Service provides fast, efficient and accurate scoring of the ITBS. A variety of paper and electronic options are available.

    Select a Primary Reporting Plan

    You’ll start by ordering a primary reporting plan. Your primary reporting plan covers processing and scoring of answer documents and provides you with an initial set of reports to review your assessment results. If you and your HMH Assessment Account Executive decide “paper” is the best direction for your district, you’ll want to select the Basic Service Plan. It includes the processing and scoring of answer documents and one copy of the List of Student Scores with Class, Building, and System Summaries. Basic Service is automatically included and billed with your order unless you indicate you would prefer a Paperless Plan on the Order Form for HMH Scoring Service (OSS).

    For school districts interested in eliminating paper reports, HMH Scoring Service offers a Paperless Plan option for your primary reporting plan that includes one copy of the Student Profile Narrative for each student tested delivered to you as an Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) file and access to your assessment results through Interactive Results Manager™ (iRM™), HMH’s web-based data analysis tool.

    Select Optional Reports and Services.

    The reports that accompany your primary reporting plan provide an overview of your students’ assessment results, but additional reports are usually needed to communicate information to parents, students, teachers, administrators, counselors, researchers, and others.

    FAQs to consider when ordering your reports that will help you make the most of your assessment program:

    Mix-and-Match to Create a Custom Package

    HMH allows you the convenience of mixing and matching between paper and PDF reports to tailor a scoring package that meets the unique needs of your district. For example, your district might order:

    • Original copies of score reports as PDFs to eliminate the need to store paper copies at the district office.
    • Additional copies of score reports printed on paper, so you can still send a traditional report home to families.

    HMH Customer Experience or your local Assessment Account Executive can help you tailor a package that makes sense for your needs.