Every year, achievement testing season rolls around. As a child, I enjoyed testing. It meant new pencils, special snacks, and fun games. I didn’t have to worry about interpreting the test scores. Now, after studying assessments in grad school and working with people who dedicate their lives to testing, I realize how complicated the results can be. It’s hard to remember what all the terms and abbreviations mean, isn’t it?
So this month, I’ll share some testing terms and their definitions with you. I hope they help you and your children have a great testing season.
When a child takes a standardized test, his scores are compared to what is called the norm. Basically, the norm is the scores of a sample group of children that took the same test. They took the test before this year so that their scores are available for comparison.
National Percentile Rank
Also known as the percentile rank, this ranks your child’s scores against the norm’s scores. When your child takes a test, his scores are compared to the norm to see how he did. If he is placed in the 80 percentile then he scored as well or better than 80% of the students in the norm group.
Stanine may be referred to as NS on your test results. It’s another grading scale that goes from 1-9. Low scores are in the 1-3 range, 4-6 indicates medium scores, and 7-9 scores are considered high. It’s a quick way to see which “group” your child scored in.
I remember learning about grade equivalents in one of my grad classes. It’s easy to misunderstand but fascinating once you understand it. (I misunderstood it before learning how to read it.) Basically, the GE tells you what level of student (grade level) your child scored the same as. So if your fourth-grader has a 7.2 GE on his math test, it means he scored the same as an average seventh-grade student who took the same test in his second month of seventh grade. It doesn’t mean that your fourth-grader should be in seventh grade. That would be great though! Just remember that it’s not comparing your child to his peers but correlating his score with other scores regardless of grade level.
Note: You may see PHS in the GE column. That stands for Post High School, and again it doesn’t mean that your child is ready to attend college, just that he scored higher than the average high school senior.
What other testing terms do you find confusing or hard to remember?