Jan 012013

Stanford Achievement Test VS Iowa Standardized Test – Which is best for kids with LDs?

Parents of Learning Abled Kids often wonder whether the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) or the Stanford Achievement test is the better choice for their child’s required annual standardized testing.

In addition to standardized test preparation for your child, you will want to consider the following information before picking one of the standardized tests.

Stanford Achievement Test VS Iowa Standardized Test : Timed Testing Differences

Timed testing can be a significant issue for children with slow processing or reading speeds.

The Stanford Achievement Test is technically untimed even though they include timing recommendations for their tests. The ability to administer the test as a UNtimed test helps with students who work very slowly. Since timing is not required for the Stanford Achievement Test, it can be beneficial to use if your child has a slow working speed, however there are drawbacks to using the Stanford test as well.

Conversely, the Iowa Standardized Test indicates it must be administered within guidelines for timing. Needless to say, being required to follow a timed protocol can be problematic for your child if he processes information slowly or reads slowly.

That said, the Riverside Publishing site, the publisher of the Iowa Standardized Test, does make mention of accommodations in their glossary. They also mention them in their explanations of interpretation for the results.  If your child has a comprehensive neuro-psychological evaluation documenting a very slow reading or processing speed, it would seem a reasonable accommodation to permit your child to have time-and-a-half or double time, depending upon the slowness of your child’s processing speed.

Differences in Accommodations for Testing : Stanford Achievement Test VS Iowa Standardized Test

Stanford Achievement Test

One of the aspects I like about the Stanford Achievement Test is their published accommodations guidelines. If you’d like to see what standard accommodations are permitted under a NORMAL administration for the Stanford Achievement Test, please refer to their accommodations document: http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/PDF/6942-Accom_SAT10_Supp1_v2.pdf.

Using the Stanford accommodation guidelines helps a lot if your child needs some of the listed accommodations. The well-documented support for using accommodations with the Stanford Achievement Test is very much appreciated by parents of Learning Abled Kids.

I have been unable to find any documentation that provides information regarding accommodations that can be used for students with disabilities taking the Iowa Standardized Test on the publisher’s website. The Riverside site (http://www.riversidepublishing.com/products/itbs/index.html), seems to ignore the need for information regarding accommodations for those with disabilities. This makes me less inclined to recommend the Iowa Standardized Test because procedures for testing with accommodations is not clearly documented.

Riverside’s website does say, “To the extent that the accommodations used with a student were chosen carefully and judged to be necessary, the anticipated effect is to reduce the impact of that student’s disability on the assessment process. That is, the student responses are like those we would expect the student to make if that student had no disability. Consequently, it seems reasonable to use that student’s scores in the same ways we would use the scores of all other students. The student’s answer document should be placed among the others for scoring, the student’s scores should be included with all others in group averages.”  [Ref: http://www.riversidepublishing.com/scoring/iowa/interpretation.htmlInterpreting Scores from Special Test Administrations]

Stanford Achievement Test VS Iowa Standardized Test Administration Requirements

With both the Stanford and the Iowa test, you can test your own child in your home, which can be highly preferable for children with ADHD or who may be easily distracted by testing in an unfamiliar setting. Both tests are similar in this aspect of test administration.

The Stanford test also has an online test format offered through some providers. If your child prefers selecting answers on the computer over marking them in a booklet, the computer-based testing option might be your most viable choice. The test is administered by the test provider, so your child will have to take the exam under the provider’s testing guidelines.

Summary Comparison of the Iowa Standardized Test versus Stanford Achievement Test

I have used both tests. I’ve tested in each of the different formats/groupings. I have used the Iowa Standardized Test at home with just my kids and with other kids.  I’ve also tested using the Stanford Achievement Test in a large group in a church classroom. We also used the Stanford test at my home with a few additional children.

In each case, whichever test it was, it all worked well for us, but the Stanford Achievement Test large group testing was the least viable for my kids’ needs. With the larger group, while things went well with the testing, there were a couple of minor distractions that I believe affected the attention of all of the kids being tested at the time.

For children who are easily distracted, testing in the group environment can be more of an issue, particularly with young children. While some parents want their children to get accustomed to testing in groups, I think there is PLENTY of opportunity to test with groups through the PSAT and high school level testing of other types. High school AP testing, testing in any classes they may take, etc., will all prepare the kids for group testing for the ACT or SAT.

Whether you use the Stanford Achievement Test or ITBS, if you have other students join your children for testing, or you opt for group testing, then you pretty much have to test when scheduled rather than when your kids are up and ready to test.

As far as the tests themselves go, I liked the flow of the Iowa Standardized Test better than the Stanford Achievement Test. I like being able to easily complete each section at flexible times when my kids were physiologically ready for testing (they had good night’s sleep, were up and ready, no illness, no stress, etc.). That eliminated feeling stressed or having the excitement of others coming to test.

The Stanford used to require group testing to test your own kids, but they no longer have that requirement as of 2014. Thus, the Stanford is very similar and testing could be done when your child is ready if you are not using the online test version.

Stanford Achievement Test VS Iowa Standardized Test Conclusion

Thus, for any child in elementary or middle school, it doesn’t really matter whether you use the Iowa Standardized Test or Stanford.  I do like the fact that the Stanford provides information and guidelines for providing accommodations.

Lastly, in regard to administration of either test at home, you have to be careful to establish an interference-free testing environment. Turn off all of the ringers on the phones, put a note on your front door for anyone NOT to ring or knock.. Leave a notepad out there (if they want to leave a note). Ask them to quietly leave due to testing.

Also, if you have any dogs, it’s a good idea to tend to them before testing so they will be crated. Put the dogs as far away from the testing location as possible, so any sudden event won’t cause a lot of barking (we had that one year!!).

In the end, I think the Iowa Standardized Test and Stanford Achievement Test both are viable, but the Stanford seems more “disabilities friendly. As a parent, you do have to weigh the options in relation to your individual child’s personal needs to decide which is best. Don’t forget to check out How to Prepare Your Child for Standardized Testing too. Hope that helps! 😀