Parent/Educator Resources
Parent/Educator Resources
Standardized Tests
Name of Test: California Achievement Test or Terra Nova, Second and Third Edition (Note: The first edition is known as the California Achievement Test and the second and third editions are known as the Terra Nova Test.)

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in five major areas:

  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Study Skills

Note: There also is a version of the Terra Nova which purports to measure the Common Core Standards.

What kind of test is this? This is a paper-and-pencil test which your child will take. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school usually gives this test to all students in a grade, to determine how well individual kids, and the school as a whole, perform. This test is a relatively new test compared to some of the other standardized tests. It is not quite as popular since The No Child Left Behind Law required individual states to essentially create their own state-wide, standards-based assessments. Still, lots of middle school kids continue taking this test. The California Achievement Test (or Terra Nova) is also a favorite among home-schooling parents and private schools because they, too, are interested in how their children perform on standardized tests.

How long does the test take? 120-210 minutes for the entire test. Each subtest takes about 20 minutes.

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes.

Company/Test website: Second edition: http://goo.gl/zj7r55

Third Edition: http://goo.gl/LC9kaw

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile score, so you can compare how your child fared compared to a random sampling of kids of the same age from across the United States. For example, if your child receives a percentile score of 75, it means that out of 100 kids, your child did better than 75 kids and worse than 25 kids. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child. In addition, you will receive grade and age-based standard scores.

Name of Test: Cognitive Abilities Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This is an aptitude test that measures verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal learned reasoning and problem solving skills. Subtests include:

  • Verbal Classification
  • Sentence Completion
  • Verbal Analogies
  • Quantitative Relations
  • Number Series
  • Equation Building
  • Figure Classification
  • Figure Analogies
  • Figure Analysis

What kind of test is this? This is a paper-and-pencil test which is individually administered. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they may qualify for talented and gifted programming or if they are in need of special education or extra programming. When used in this manner, the one doing the assessing is either looking for extremely high or low test scores.

Parents who home-school their children will sometimes give this test to their kids as a measure of how they are faring academically. This test can be given to large numbers of middle school kids at the same time. This test is often given in conjunction with the Iowa Tests of Basis Skills.

How long does the test take? 150 minutes

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but there are some limitations. Only qualified individuals should administer this test.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/xn5352

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get verbal and nonverbal scores. You will get a percentile score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child. In addition, you will receive age-based standard scores.

Name of Test: Explore Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of English, math, reading, and science. The Explore Test is designed to be a predictive test of the ACT, one of the most popular tests high school kids take during their junior or senior year as part of the entrance criteria process to get into a college or University. During the Explore Test, your child will also answer questions about their educational and career plans, which will determine whether or not they are on track to succeed in a college or university, and how their current likes and dislikes may best match up with various career interests. Each area assessed has the following strands within each test:

English

  • Understanding of standard written English (usage and mechanics)
  • Use of strategy, organization, and style in writing (rhetorical skills)

Math

  • Knowledge and skills
  • Direct application
  • Understanding concepts
  • Integrating understanding of concepts

Reading

  • Referring to details in passages
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Making comparisons and generalizations

Science

  • Scientific reasoning skills
  • Ability to understand scientific information
  • Ability to draw conclusions from scientific information

What kind of test is this? This is a paper and pencil test.

Why would my child take this test? A school usually gives this test to most students in either the 8th or 9th grade. This test is often given in conjunction with the PLAN test (also a predictor of how well kids will do on the ACT) in the 10th grade. An advantage for your child in taking the EXPLORE test, other than getting a sneak preview as to how well they will do on the ACT, is getting an early look at their career area preferences. The EXPLORE test will match your child’s interests up with the interests of adults working numerous occupations. This will give you and your child an indication of where potential matches may be and where they may want to direct their future career aspirations.

How long does the test take? 150 minutes

Can an individual parent buy this test? No.

Company/Test website: http://www.act.org/explorestudent/

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile scores and a composite score of the average of your child’s test scores in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The composite score will range from a low of 1 to a high of 25. You will also receive an estimated or predictive score which may give you an indicator as to whether or not your child is on track for success in a college or university setting. In addition, you will receive a description of the skills and knowledge your child already has, along with a comparison of your child’s courses to the “core” or college and university prep courses, and a checklist of where your child stands on college and university readiness benchmarks.

Name of Test: Iowa Test of Basic Skills

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, and language, including tests in these areas:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling
  • Language
  • Math
  • Math concepts and Estimation
  • Problem solving and Data Interpretation
  • Math Computation
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Sources of Information

What kind of test is this? This is either a paper-and-pencil test, or it can be administered online. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school usually gives this test to all students in a grade, to determine how well individual kids, and the school as a whole, perform. This test has been around for a long time but isn’t as popular since The No Child Left Behind Law required individual states to create their own state-wide, standards-based assessments. Still, lots of middle school kids continue taking this test. The Iowa Tests of Basis Skills is also used by home-schooling parents and some private schools because they, too, are interested in how their children perform on standardized tests.

How long does the test take? 210 minutes for the entire test.

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but only trained individuals should give the paper-and-pencil test version.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/4iACIO

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child. In addition, you will receive grade and age-based standard scores. You will also receive a Lexile score.

Name of Test: Kaufman Tests of Educational Achievement

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, writing, and oral language, including subtests in these areas:

  • Letter and word recognition
  • Reading comprehension
  • Phonological awareness
  • Nonsense word decoding
  • Word recognition fluency
  • Decoding fluency
  • Associational fluency
  • Naming facility
  • Math concepts and applications
  • Math computation
  • Written expression
  • Spelling
  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral expression

What kind of test is this? This is either a paper-and-pencil test or a test your child will take on the computer. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is, correctly or incorrectly, answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they qualify for talented and gifted programming or if they are in need of special education programming. When used in this manner, the one doing the assessing is either looking for extremely high scores or extremely low scores or test scores which don’t match (correlate) with an individual child’s intelligence test results. School psychologists, clinical psychologists, and special education teachers are the individuals who usually administer this test. Parents who home-school their children will sometimes (rarely) give this test to their kids as a measure of how they are faring academically. There are cheaper and better tests to give to your home-schooled children. Because this test is individually administered, this test will never be given to large numbers of middle school kids at the same time.

How long does the test take? Eighty Minutes

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but it’s expensive and only trained individuals should give this test.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/lLpGuI

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child.

Name of Test: Key Math Diagnostic Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This is an aptitude test that measures basic math concepts, operations, and applications. Subtests include:

  • Numeration
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis and Probability
  • Mental Computation and Estimation
  • Written Computation
  • Foundations of Problem Solving
  • Applied Problem Solving

What kind of test is this? This is a paper-and-pencil test which is individual administered. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they may qualify for talented and gifted programming or if they are in need of special education or extra programming. When used in this manner, the one doing the assessing is either looking for extremely high scores or extremely low scores or test scores which don’t match (correlate) with an individual child’s intelligence test results.

Parents who home-school their children will sometimes give this test to their kids as a measure of how they are faring academically.

How long does the test take? Six hours if you give all the subtests

Can an individual parent buy this test? No, unless they have master’s degrees in select subjects. Only qualified individuals should administer this test.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/esaE3I

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child. In addition, you will receive standard scores. If the test is given several times over a period of time, growth scores are available.

Name of Test: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, language, and science. There are no subtests but each assessment has the following strands within each test:

Reading

  • Word recognition, structure, and vocabulary
  • Reading literature: key ideas, reading for understanding
  • Reading literature: craft, structure, evaluation
  • Reading informational texts: key ideas, reading for understanding
  • Reading informational text: craft, structure, evaluation

Math

  • Number sense/number systems
  • Estimation and computation
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Statistics and probability
  • Problem solving, reasoning, and proofs

Science

  • Physical science
  • Life science
  • Earth and space sciences
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Nature of Science

What kind of test is this? This is a computerized adaptive test widely used in many middle schools throughout the United States. This is an “active” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get different questions. Consequently, the test questions are modified—meaning the questions change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test. This allows for a more active assessment of your child’s true academic skills and growth than a traditional standardized test.

Why would my child take this test? A school usually gives this test to all students in a grade, to determine how well individual kids, and the school as a whole, perform. This test has been around for over thirty years and is considered the granddaddy of computerized adaptive assessments. Still, in some states, this test is rarely given.

How long does the test take? 50-90 minutes for each test. (There is no time limit for these tests.)

Can an individual parent buy this test? No.

Company/Test website: https://www.nwea.org/

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile score. You will also receive a RIT score, which is short for Rausch unit. (Don’t worry what the term Rausch unit means—only statistical junkies will bother to research this.) A RIT score will be reported usually somewhere between 160 and 270. A RIT score of 160 is a low score and a RIT score of 270 is a high score. Most middle school kids will receive RIT scores between 200 and 240 on these tests.

The cool thing about RIT scores is that they measure growth. A year’s worth of academic growth is worth anywhere between four and seven RIT points, depending on the test and original RIT score. Thus, no matter what types of grades they receive on their report cards, you will be able to tell if your child is making academic progress.

For example, a child who scores a RIT of 213, 214, and 215 in Reading over three consecutive years is making no improvements in their reading skills. This is cause for alarm because it means the child is either receiving poor instruction or has some type of learning difficulty (or other situation) which is interfering with their ability to improve in their reading skills. Conversely, a child who has received a RIT of 213, 220, and 229 in Reading over three consecutive years is making solid academic progress.

Name of Test: Otis-Lennon School Ability Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s thinking and reasoning ability, including:

  • Classifying
  • Following directions
  • Solving math problems
  • Completing analogies
  • Establishing sequence
  • Defining words
  • Reshaping words and numbers
  • Detecting differences and similarities
  • Verbal, nonverbal, quantitative ability

What kind of test is this? This is either a paper-and-pencil test or a test your child will take on the computer. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they qualify for talented and gifted programming. This is a commonly used test for that purpose. Rarely will all kids in a school or grade take this test because it is expensive. Often the school will establish criteria as to which students take this test. For example, they may decide that only students who scored above the 80% percentile on two standardized tests will take the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. The criteria schools use can vary wildly from district to district. Some parents who home-school their children will also give this test to their kids.

How long does the test take? One hour.

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/dxdwQc

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile, standard, and stanine score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child.

Name of Test: Stanford Achievement Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, and language, including tests in these areas:

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Language
  • Spelling
  • Listening
  • Science
  • Social Studies

What kind of test is this? This is either a paper-and-pencil test or a test your child will take on the computer. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school usually gives this test to all students in a grade, to determine how well individual kids, and the school as a whole, perform. This test has been around for a long time and has fallen somewhat out of favor since The No Child Left Behind Law required individual states to create their own state-wide, standards-based assessments. Still, lots of middle school kids continue taking this test. The Stanford Achievement Test is also a favorite among home-schooling parents and some private schools because they, too, are interested in how their children perform on standardized tests. In some states, however, very few public school kids will take this test.

How long does the test take? 5-6 hours for the entire test

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but only trained individuals should give paper-and-pencil test. The online version of this test does not involve any training.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/rzCaVg

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get a percentile, Lexile, and stanine score. You will also receive a grade and age equivalency score for your child.

Name of Test: Star Math

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills in these four mathematical strands.

  • Algebra
  • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
  • Geometry and Measurement
  • Numbers and Operations

What kind of test is this? This is a computer adaptive test, which means that questions become progressively more difficult or easier, depending on whether your child is correctly answering the questions.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine their level of math skills. This is a relatively new test for the Accelerated Math Program, a mirror image of the popular Accelerated Reading Program. Not surprisingly, this test will be given to your child in schools which use the Accelerated Math Program. If your child’s school does not use the Accelerated Math Program, there is no reason for them to be taking this test. After your child takes the Accelerated Math test, they will be placed into either a paper or computerized math program, depending on how well they did on the test. The idea is to find your child’s optimum level of math placement so they can receive more effective math instruction.

How long does the test take? About 15 minutes.

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes

Company/Test Website: http://goo.gl/QOHyy0

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get primarily get percentile and growth scores. You will also get predictions on how your child will score on the state assessment.

Name of Test: Star Reading

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills in these five strands.

  • Analyzing Argument and Evaluating Text
  • Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning
  • Literary Text
  • Understanding Author’s Craft
  • Vocabulary

What kind of test is this? This is a computer adaptive test, which means that questions become progressively more difficult or easier, depending on whether your child is correctly answering the questions.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine their reading level. This is a common test given in schools which use the Accelerated Reading (AR) Program. In the AR program, your child takes the Star test which determines their approximate level of reading. Books within certain reading levels are then recommended for your child. The goal is to have them be reading books within their instructional reading level. After they are finished reading the book, they take a simple, low-level multiple choice test to determine if they have recalled enough details from the book to be considered as having “passed” the test. Each book successfully read by your child is worth so many points. In the AR program, your child continues reading books until they reach a predetermined number of points. For example, not very many middle school kids will read enough books to accumulate 500 points in a single year. This is a very high standard. On the other hand, some middle school kids will hardly read any books and will accumulate barely over 20 points for the entire school year. The number of points your child reads in any given year will be highly correlated with their level of reading skills.

How long does the test take? About 15 minutes.

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/2rcK3s

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You will get primarily get percentile, scaled, Lexile, grade equivalent, and growth scores. You will also get predictions on how your child will score on the state assessment.

Name of Test: Wechsler Individual Achievement Test

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, writing, and oral language, including subtests in these areas:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral expression
  • Word reading
  • Pseudo-worded decoding
  • Reading comprehension
  • Oral reading fluency
  • Alphabet writing fluency
  • Spelling
  • Sentence completion
  • Essay composition
  • Math problem solving
  • Numerical operations
  • Math fluency addition
  • Math fluency subtraction
  • Math fluency multiplication

What kind of test is this? This is a paper-and-pencil test which is untimed. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they qualify for talented and gifted programming or if they are in need of special education programming. When used in this manner, the one doing the assessing is either looking for extremely high scores or extremely low scores or test scores which don’t match (correlate) with an individual child’s intelligence test results. School psychologists, clinical psychologists, and special education teachers are the individuals who usually administer this test. Parents who home-school their children will sometimes give this test to their kids as a measure of how they are faring academically. There are cheaper and better tests to give to your home-schooled children. Because this test is individually administered, this test will never be given to large numbers of middle school kids at the same time.

How long does the test take? 120 Minutes

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but it’s expensive and only trained individuals should give this test.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/wcWcRV

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You can get percentile, stanine, age and grade equivalency, standard, and growth scores from this test.

Name of Test: Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement

What is the test supposed to measure? This test measures your child’s skills primarily in the areas of reading, math, language, and knowledge, including subtests in these areas:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Reading vocabulary
  • Reading basic skills
  • Reading phonics
  • Reading word attack
  • Math computation
  • Math reasoning and application of basic skills
  • Language knowledge
  • Language skills
  • Language expression
  • Language punctuation
  • Language spelling
  • Language grammar
  • Knowledge of general science
  • Knowledge of social studies
  • Knowledge of humanities

What kind of test is this? This is an individually administered paper-and-pencil test which is untimed. This is a “static” test, meaning that all kids taking the test get the same questions. Consequently, the test questions are not modified—meaning the questions do not change, based upon how well your child is correctly or incorrectly answering questions while taking the test.

Why would my child take this test? A school may give this test to your child to determine if they qualify for talented and gifted programming or if they are in need of special education programming. When used in this manner, the one doing the assessing is either looking for extremely high scores or extremely low scores or test scores which don’t match (correlate) with an individual child’s intelligence test results. This test is heavily used by school personnel to determine whether or not your child is eligible for special education services. School psychologists, clinical psychologists, and special education teachers are the individuals who usually administer this test. Parents who home-school their children will sometimes (rarely) give this test to their kids as a measure of how they are faring academically. There are cheaper and better tests to give to your home-schooled children. Because this test is individually administered, this test will never be given to large numbers of middle school kids at the same time.

How long does the test take? 120-180 minutes

Can an individual parent buy this test? Yes, but it’s expensive and only trained individuals should give this test.

Company/Test website: http://goo.gl/5orK1T

What kind of statistical reports do I get? You can get percentile, stanine, age and grade equivalency, standard, and both t and z scores from this test. Additional types of scores are also available.

What is a “Grade Equivalency Score?”

A grade equivalency score is based on the notion that kids are in school for ten months of the year. Thus, a grade equivalency score of 6.5 means the student in question scored in the middle of the sixth grade year. Likewise, a grade equivalency score of 9.4 means the student in question scored in the middle of the ninth grade year, less one month. Grade equivalency scores are notoriously unreliable and I recommend you don’t pay any attention to them. Why? Just because your sixth grader received a grade equivalency score of 10.8, it doesn’t mean they are ready to go to high school. Grade equivalency scores are unreliable the more extreme they become, either on the low or high end. They were never intended to precisely measure the exact far ranges beyond the grade level really being measured. Do yourself and your child a favor and ignore both grade and age equivalency scores.

What is a Lexile Score?

A Lexile score is a way of measuring the reading ability of your child. Lexile scores are commonly used in middle schools. A Lexile score is primarily comprised of two elements: the frequency of words, and the length of sentences. A higher Lexile score means the reading material is more complex and conversely, a lower Lexile score means the reading material is less complex. For example, as reading materials increase in difficulty level, they tend to contain words that appear less frequently, and also to include significantly longer sentences. In materials which are easier to read, the sentences tend to repeat words more frequently and the sentences tend to be shorter.

Lexile scores can range anywhere from 100 to 2000. The higher the Lexile score, the more difficult the reading material will be. Thus, a middle school child who has a Lexile score of 700 will have significantly more difficulty reading most materials than a child who has a Lexile score of 1300.

Many books and textbooks are published with their Lexile score, so the level of reading difficulty is known. This means that if you know your child’s Lexile score and the Lexile score of the book, you can match them up so your child will be reading material they understand.

Generally speaking, you want to consider choosing books that are appropriate for your child’s independent reading level, which is generally considered to be somewhere between 100 points below their Lexile score and 50 points above their Lexile score. For example, if your child has a Lexile score of 1000, they will be able to read a book with a Lexile score of 950 without too much difficulty. But if your middle school child attempts to read a book with a Lexile score of 1600, they will be frustrated because there will be many vocabulary words they won’t understand and the sentences will be too complex for them to grasp.

To understand more about Lexile scores, go to this website: https://goo.gl/CSy133

What is a Percentile Score?

Percentile scores are useful because you can compare how your child fared on a given test, compared to a random sampling of kids of the same age and grade, from across the United States. For example, if your child receives a percentile score of 75, it means that out of 100 kids, your child did better than 75 kids and worse than 25 kids. If your child receives a percentile score of 25, it means that out of 100 kids, your child did better than 25 kids and worse than 75 kids.

Percentile scores are one of the most commonly used reporting measures used by the major testing companies. Percentile scores are reported from 1 to 99. A child will never receive a percentile score of 0 or 100, because theoretically, there is always someone who has received either a lower or higher score.

An important thing to know about percentile scores is that they are not very good at discriminating skills at either end of the scale—the 1st through 5th percentile, and the 95th through the 99th percentile. For example, there isn’t much difference between a 2nd percentile score and a 4th percentile score. Likewise, there isn’t much difference between a 96th and 98th percentile score. This is because the designers of the test have worked very hard to create test items which cause the kids taking the test to have results strewn out all along the normal curve. The test designers—even though they will vehemently deny this—really aren’t interested in subtle differences between adjacent percentile scores. Though test designers will rarely admit it, the difference between a middle schooler scoring at the 95th percentile and the 98th percentile is only answering one question either incorrectly or correctly. In other words, it’s not that important of a distinction.

Every percentile score always contains some error and variance. Consequently, if your child scores at the 50th percentile, the truth is that their true test score is probably somewhere between the 16th percentile and the 84th percentile. (Note: This is not quite true because percentile scores are ordinal, but for our purposes it will suffice.) There is a big difference between a student scoring at the 84th percentile and the 16th percentile but this should impress upon you the fact that you have to consider the reality that every test has error built into it. The final percentile score your child receives is always an educated guess as to their real score.

What is a Standard Score?

A standard score is based on the normal curve (sometimes referred to as the “bell” curve). In a normal curve, a standard score of 100 is average. This means that 50% of middle school kids will score higher than 100 and 50% of middle school kids will score lower than 100. For this reason, standard scores can be very confusing, especially if you are not used to them. The most famous standard score, with which you are probably familiar, is the IQ score.

Standard scores have standard deviation of 16 (I’m rounding off here in order to generalize a bit). Thus, if your child receives a standard score of 84 (or 100 minus 16, or one standard deviation below average), it means that 84% of all kids who took this test did better than your child. If your child receives a standard score of 68 (100 minus 32, or two standard deviations below average), it means that 97-98% of all kids who took this test fared better than your child. Conversely, if your child receives a standard score of 116 (100 plus 16, or one standard deviation above average), it means that 16% of all kids who took this test did better than your child. If your child receives a standard score of 132 (100 + 32, or two standard deviations above average), it means that only 2-3% of all kids who took this test scored higher than your child.

Clinical and school psychologists are used to reporting test scores as standard scores but they can bewilder people the first time they encounter them. If you don’t understand what standard scores are, it doesn’t mean you are stupid or slow. All it means is that you are a normal adult. Ask the individual explaining the test results to slow down and re-explain the results. Click here to get a visual picture of what standard scores and the normal curve look like: http://goo.gl/8PXjvl.

What is a Stanine Score?

A stanine is a form of a standard score. Stanines are reported in the form of a number between and including, one to nine. A stanine of one means your child’s skills are somewhere between the first and fourth percentile. A stanine of nine means your child’s skills are somewhere between the ninety-sixth and ninety-ninth percentile. In other words, a stanine simply reports a probable range of percentile scores. Here is a complete listing of the nine stanine scores and the corresponding percentile scores.

Stanine 1 = percentile score of 1-4

Stanine 2 = percentile score of 5-11

Stanine 3 = percentile score of 12-23

Stanine 4 = percentile score of 24-40

Stanine 5 = percentile score of 41-59

Stanine 6 = percentile score of 60-76

Stanine 7 = percentile score of 77-88

Stanine 8 = percentile score of 89-95

Stanine 9 = percentile score of 96-99

You might wonder why a test publish doesn’t just publish percentile scores and leave it at that. Why bother with stanine scores which are more difficult for most parents (and teachers) to understand? Well, a stanine score leaves the test publisher with more “fudge room” for error. For example, if your child receives a stanine score of 6, it means your child’s true score, after a certain amount of random error is eliminated, is somewhere between the 60th and 76th percentile. If your child receives a percentile score of 75, the score can give parents the impression the test publishers have precisely determined that your child’s percentile score is 75, which isn’t true, because it really could be anywhere between 60 and the 90th percentile—after variance and error are calculated into the result. Still, no matter how you look at it, stanines are more difficult to understand than percentile scores, which is why many test publishers don’t even bother reporting them.

Here is a visual of stanine scores: http://goo.gl/i1aGxq

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