Cathy Welch (Ph.D. ’90), a native of Cedar Rapids, directs Iowa Testing Programs’ statewide testing program. Welch was a leader in developing the new assessments that have been proposed to serve her home state and keep up with trends in testing and education.
“The Next Generation Iowa Assessments, developed with help from Iowa teachers, are a new and improved version of the Iowa Assessments our state and many others have trusted for decades,” Welch says. “We are focused on remaining on the cutting -edge as well as affordability.”
The Next Generation Iowa Assessments are aligned with the Iowa Core. The tests will take students less time to complete and will save Iowans millions of dollars compared to competitor tests.
Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) is a research, development, and outreach unit in the University of Iowa College of Education. For more than 85 years, it has been recognized as one of the world’s best large-scale assessment and educational measurement programs.
Its national and international prominence is a boon to Iowa as it is able to offer the assessments to the state at a subsidized rate, saving taxpayers upwards of $6 million a year. In addition, its long history of successfully assessing Iowa’s students allows Iowa educators to benefit from extensive longitudinal comparative data.
The Next Generation tests will be available both in traditional paper and pencil form as well as online to adapt to school preferences and resources. ITP also delivers a variety of other assessments at no cost to Iowa taxpayers.
ITP exams are created with help from Iowa teachers. Teacher reviewers are called in each time ITP initiates a new development cycle. ITP leaders invite a diverse group, recruiting teachers from a variety of locations within the state, –from small, medium, and large-sized districts, ; from urban and rural districts, ; and from teachers with different ethnic backgrounds.
Amy Blau, a fifth-grade teacher from Spencer, participated in review sessions in June 2013 and June 2014. She says being part of the revision process made her realize that ITP wants to work together with Iowa teachers to create the best assessments they can.
“Teacher feedback helps keep the tests relevant to what’s actually happening in the classroom,” she says. “I know now that they do want to hear from me. I know my feedback will be valued.”