Questions Parents Frequently Ask about Assessment in Idaho

Why does the State of Idaho test students?

It is one way to monitor the education system. Schools are responsible for academic achievement as well as other aspects of student growth. The taxpayers of Idaho rely on the Legislature, the State Department of Education, and the State Board of Education to fund, approve curriculum, and set policy for schools. The student achievement data are important to the decision making process.

Why does the State take so much instructional time for testing?

State testing is a big responsibility at the school and district levels and interrrupts the instructional schedule for schools. However, the most time any typical student will spend on State required testing totals less than eight hours in one school year.

There are five State administered tests that your child may take. These five tests are the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in four content areas, Direct Writing Assessment (DWA) or Direct Math Assessment (DMA), Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI), National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Idaho English Language Assessment (IELA).

Grades 4–8 take the most tests!

  • students in grades 4–9 take a DWA or a DMA. (60-90 minutes)
  • students in grades 5 and 7 take a science ISAT in addition to math, reading and language usage. (90 minutes in addition to the 5 hours required for the other 3 subjects)
  • students in grades 4 and 8 may be sampled for the NAEP. (additional 90 minutes)
  • All English language learners, all grades, take the IELA.

(Tests are generally offered over multiple days throughout the school year to allow for better performance)

PDF Icon This document will help you determine at what grade level your student will take a particular test.

How can parents, students, and teachers know what knowledge and skills will be tested?

The State of Idaho developed Idaho Content Standards that frame the essential knowledge and skills that Idaho's children will learn in grades K-12 for math, reading, writing, social studies, science, and humanities
Read the Standards Here:

Idaho has also developed Proficiency Level Descriptors (PLDs) for each grade and content tested on the ISAT. Parents will appreciate these summaries written in paragraph or list form.
Read the Proficiency Level Descriptors (PLDs) Here:

The Idaho Content Standards determine what is tested on the State tests, including all but NAEP.

  1. The Idaho Content Standards determine what is tested on the State tests, including all but NAEP.
  2. Idaho English Language Assessment (IELA), all grades, Limited English Proficient (LEP) students.
  3. Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI), grades K-3.
  4. Direct Math Asssessment (DMA) or Direct Writing Assessment (DWA) grades 4-9.
  5. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is based on a NAEP Framework. Sampling of 4th and 8th grade students.

What tests will my child be required to take at each grade-level?

Your school will keep you informed and the matrix provided here provides a quick reference.

How do I find out when tests are administered?

Your school and district will keep you informed and the students will be talking about the tests. You can also go to the link provided PDF Icon here to view the testing calendar for the year.

When do we get the results for the test and how do I understand the scores when they are reported to me?

Each test is scored and reported as quickly as possible. Depending on how the test is designed, administered, and scored. More detail can be found at the homepage through the hotlinks below.

ISAT (Idaho Standard Achievement Test) - administered online, scores are available immediately (school, district and state scores available 4 weeks after the close of the testing window)

IAA (Idaho Alternate Assessment) – teacher administered, scores available 4 weeks after the close of the testing window

IRI (Idaho Reading Indicator) – individually administered, scores available immediately

IELAIdaho English Language Assessment) – paper and pencil administration, scores available 8 weeks after test administration.

NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) – No scores reported at the student, school or district level. State scores available 12-18 months after the test administration.

My child has an Individualized Learning Plan (IEP), or an English Learning Plan (ELP) or a 504 Plan. What do I need to know?

Be an active part of the IEP, ELP or 504 planning team.

If your child has special needs, your child's school shall include you on a team with school personnel to write a learning plan to assist your child. This plan is reviewed on a regular basis and the parent must sign the plan before it can be implemented. The school has the responsibility to use the IEP, ELP, or 504 plan to support each student with accommodations that are appropriate for each student. Parents must be a part of the decision-making team.

Please check with your child's principal, teacher, or counselor for more information.

Learn about accommodations that might assist your child and those that might actually present additional barriers.

There are accommodations that are offered to students who have specific barriers to showing what they know and can do in the school setting. An accommodation is designed to assist a child in demonstrating their knowledge and skills and does not give an advantage. Each plan identifies the allowable accommodations for the classroom and testing situations.

Note: Occasionally a student will have an accommodation for testing that is not allowable on a state or federal test. These situations require that the parent and school personnel work together to make the best opportunity for the student to be tested in a way that scores can be reported and learning can be assessed in a standardized way. When a decision is made to use a nonstandard accommodation, it is determined to be an adaptation of the test and no scores are reported.

Please use this PDF Icon link to a description of allowable accommodations for the State tests.