An Easy Way to Learn More About Your Student’s Needs


It’s time to make a plan for testing your 4th-6th grade students using I-Excel. Why I-Excel? This test offers an opportunity for talented students to demonstrate their capabilities. Receiving scores helps educators and families to make better-informed decisions about their students’ education. Scores provide information useful for placement decisions, acceleration discussions, and gaining a better understanding of a particular student’s academic abilities.

I-Excel is considered an above-level test. It contains 8th grade content, but it is administered to high-ability 4th – 6th graders. Students scoring at the 95th percentile or higher on any subject of the grade-level test (such as the Iowa Assessments) have reached the ceiling of that test. An above-level test raises the ceiling, measures the student’s aptitudes more accurately, and can inform parents and educators about readiness for advanced curriculum. More information and a video about above-level testing can be found at this link.

For Educators Testing Groups of Students

I-Excel can be used to screen students for a gifted program or an opportunity in a specific subject, for example, for discovering students who would benefit from an advanced math class.

We recommend the following steps for educators:

  1. Look at the results from the standardized testing routinely administered at your school (for example, the Iowa AssessmentsStanford Achievement TestsTerra Nova, etc.).
  2. Select the 4th, 5th, or 6th graders scoring at or around the 95th percentile or above on at least one of the core content areas (such as reading, math, language, science, etc.).
  3. Invite those students to participate in I-Excel testing. We suggest that the students take all four subtests of I-Excel (Math, Science, English, and Reading) to get the most comprehensive information.
  4. Use the I-Excel information in combination with other information you have available to select students for your gifted program and/or other appropriately challenging programming.
    1. You might focus on only one area; for example, if you are seeking students in need of additional opportunities in math, you’ll want to look most closely at the Math subtest of I-Excel to identify high-performing math students.
    1. Once your students test using I-Excel, educators will have access to an individualized interpretation of the test scores as well as a group interpretation (if 10 or more students tested). This information is designed to help you make informed decisions about the types of programs to provide for challenging your students.
    1. For example, in a given school with a comprehensive TAG program, educators might decide to use all four subtests of I-Excel to identify students for the gifted program. In another school, where the TAG program is more focused on advanced science and mathematics, educators might use only the Science and Math subtests of I-Excel as part of their larger identification process. Students with very high scores on the English or Reading subtests may be ready for more advanced material in language arts.

I-Excel is useful for helping educators determine which students have specific talents in one area (for example, Science), and which students demonstrate high ability across the board (Math, Science, English, and Reading). Gifted programs and other advanced opportunities can be designed with the students’ varying strengths in mind, and different schools will choose different approaches to challenge their students. Get started here:

Parents Can Set Up Individual Testing

Parents interested in learning more about their student’s capabilities can set up an individual testing session for their child. Families receive above-level test score reports and an extensive interpretation of results. This interpretation includes recommendations for curriculum readiness. Testing can be arranged at a convenient date, time, and location. Families can set up individual testing with the assistance of a local educator who serves as the test proctor. After the testing, parents receive an individual student report, which they can share with educators at their child’s school. See detailed information about Individual Testing.  If you have questions, email us at

Using I-Excel for Acceleration Decisions

Because I-Excel is an above-level test, it can be used as an indicator of specific aptitude when making decisions about acceleration in school. I-Excel scores can be used for the aptitude section of the Iowa Acceleration Scale as well as for the Indicators of Performance in the Next Grade for the Integrated Acceleration System.

Have other questions?  Visit for more details or email us at

Please note: If you’re interested in having your 7th-9th graders take the ACT, we are in the process of working out the details for this year. Due to the pandemic, ACT was prioritizing testing 11th and 12th graders. We plan to offer testing for our students later this academic year. If you would like to be notified when testing is available for 7th-9th graders, email

One response to “An Easy Way to Learn More About Your Student’s Needs

  1. Pingback: Using BESTS for IOAPA decisions | Belin-Blank Center

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