The Iowa Writing Assessment measures students' abilities to generate, organize, and express their ideas in a variety of written forms. The Iowa Writing Assessment provides the kind of information educators need about the discourse-level skills of their students. When used as a complement to the Iowa Language test, it provides a comprehensive measure of students' knowledge of written English, as well as their abilities to apply that knowledge to the demands of a specific writing situation.
The Iowa Writing Assessment is intended for use in Grades 3–12. One writing prompt in each of the four modes of discourse is available in each of five test levels:
- Level 9–10 (Grades 3 and 4)
- Level 11–12 (Grades 5 and 6)
- Level 13–14 (Grades 7 and 8)
- Level 15–16 (Grades 9 and 10)
- Level 17–18 (Grades 11 and 12)
The modes of discourse used in the Iowa Writing Assessment were adapted from those listed by the National Council of Teachers of English in its Standards for Basic Skills Writing Programs. The conceptualization of the Iowa Writing Assessment represents a synthesis of the best current thinking of writing experts in the language arts.
The standardization of the Iowa Writing Assessment involved approximately 20,000 responses from students in Grades 3–12, sampled randomly from school districts across the United States. These students took the appropriate level of the Iowa Writing Assessment and the ITBS, TAP, or ITED.