iASK Diagnostic

Nearly two-thirds of upper elementary and middle school students lack proficiency in reading, and approximately half of them lack basic reading skills that should be mastered in elementary school.

Despite generations of well-intentioned interventions, there have been few gains in effectively identifying deficits and personalizing literacy instruction to meet the needs of these students. Educators need better approaches and tools to personalize learning and to reach these students.

iASK (Iowa Assessment for Skills and Knowledge) was developed specifically to address these issues. iASK is an online reading diagnostic tool that identifies deficiencies in foundational word recognition skills in struggling 5th – 8th grade students.


iASK consists of a student component, a reporting tool, and a teacher management system. Students are enrolled in the assessment and typically complete it over three to four sessions.

Student Component
reporting tool

teacher management system

Outcomes and Use

iASK analyzes what students know about the sound-symbol system (decoding) and whether they can automatically and flexibly use what they know across many contexts. The individual student profile identifies deficits in decoding skills with a specificity not seen in other assessments. Furthermore, iASK is the first tool to directly and systematically assess the construct of automaticity of word recognition, an essential precursor to fluency and comprehension.

Specifically, iASK will tell you:

  • How many and which students are proficient or at risk in decoding and/or automaticity skills.
  • What specific gaps exist in decoding knowledge.
  • If a student can generalize decoding to novel words and to multi-syllabic words.
  • Whether the student has skills to support automatic word recognition.
  • The instructional priorities for an individual student, as well as those common to a group of students.

The results can be used to identify those students who are proficient, have some risk or have high risk in decoding and/or automaticity skills. A student detail report provides a profile for each student, showing performance in decoding, generalization and automaticity skills, which can be used to pinpoint deficits in specific areas and aid in the selection of targeted interventions for individual or groups of students.

iASK was developed from the same instructional framework and theoretical underpinnings as the Access Code reading intervention. Access Code was designed to facilitate automatic word recognition and is perfectly aligned to address the deficits in foundational reading skills identified by iASK. Together, iASK and Access Code create a dynamic system to target the assessment and instruction of basic reading skills.

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Validity and reliability testing were conducted with 564 middle school students across two waves of testing and strong correlations were found between iASK and standardized measures of decoding, fluency and comprehension.

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Getting Started

It is easy to get started with iASK. If you know that your students have deficits in foundational skills and are ready to get more information about those deficits, contact us to order and get started with iASK. If you are not sure if your students struggle with basic skills, the iASK Screener is a quick, easy, and cost-free way to find out.

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