Above-level testing is used extensively in gifted education. It can be useful for making decisions about (1) identifying a student for a gifted program, (2) determining what a student is ready to learn next, (3) deciding whether or not a student is ready for subject-matter acceleration, and (4) deciding whether or not a student is ready to skip a grade. (For a detailed explanation, check out this blog post.)
IOAPA schools use above-level testing to determine which middle school students might be eligible for IOAPA (or other above-grade-level) courses. Traditionally, the Belin-Blank Center provided above-level testing for Iowa 5th graders (I-Excel for BESTS In-School) at no cost. However, due to changes in the University of Iowa’s budget, the Belin-Blank Center is no longer able to provide these testing opportunities free of charge. The good news is, we are still able to offer a significant discount to students in the state of Iowa. For the 2018-2019 school year, the standard fee for students throughout the nation is $45 per student for group testing. For Iowa students, the fee is discounted substantially to $22. This cost may be covered by the schools, parents, or a combination of the two.
We understand that the fact that the Belin-Blank Center is no longer covering the entire cost of above-level testing for Iowa 5th graders is unfortunate and may cause some difficulty for schools. However, we do not want to discourage future above-level testing for 5th graders, and for all grades! Our goal has always been to reduce barriers that stand in the way of Iowa’s students having access to advanced coursework. To that end, Iowa schools that have not used above-level testing in the last three years can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get up to 20 free I-Excel tests during the 2018-2019 school year.