Adapted from the May 2002 TEACH News (Lawrence, Kansas)
by David Barfield
The results of this year's Stanford Achievement Tests are in. Below is
a summary of our understanding of what the test scores mean and how we use them.
Explaining the numbers
- Number of items - the number of test questions for each particular subject area.
- Raw score - the number of questions your student successfully completed for each
of the subject areas.
- Scaled scored - ask a statistician, we don't use this result.
- National PR - S. National percentile rank - It compares your student's results to the
national average of 100 students in the same grade. A 60 means that in that
subject area, your child scored better than 60 of 100 students. A score of
35 means your child scored better than 35 of 100 students. The national
average would be a 50.
- ACSI PR - S. ACSI is the Association of Christian Schools International. We test
as part of their group. So this percentile score compares your student
against the ACSI group instead of the national average. Your student's ACSI
percentiles will be lower than the national average percentiles as the ACSI
group scores better than the national averages. So this compares your child
against 100 private Christian school students.
- Grade equivalent - The grade equivalent score is the most commonly misinterpreted
score of these types of tests. Group administered achievement tests such as
the SAT are composed of items with a limited range of difficulty for
specific grade levels. In other words, third grade students are given
content area questions specifically for third grade. If a third-grade
student earns a grade equivalent of 6.5 on a test that is intended to be
administered to Grade 3, it does not mean that the student will be
successful on tasks associated with mid-sixth grade level. Rather, it means
that the student got a high percentage of the items on a third-grade test
correct - the same percentage of items correct that the average sixth-grade
student would have. The student's score in this case is more a reflection of
the student's accuracy than the grade level of task difficulty that this
student can perform. PHS means post high school.
- Summary scores - Depending on the grade level, there will be a number of summary
scores after the "content" subjects including: using information,
thinking skills, basic battery and complete battery. The basic battery
typically includes the core subjects of reading, math, language, spelling
and science. The complete battery is the total of all the subjects.
- The bottom section, titled Content Clusters, gives the break down of results
within by specific subject. The columns represent the number of questions
the student completed correctly (RS), the number possible (NP), and the
number answered by your student (NA). Thus the NA column will tell you if
your student completed all the questions within a subject area.
Regarding the Otis-Lennon
For grade third, fifth, seventh and tenth grades only, our testing group also
does the Otis-Lennon exam. This test is designed to measure the student's
aptitude as opposed to their performance in the specific subject areas. The test
results provide a percentile in the verbal and non-verbal areas for both their
age and their grade level tested.
The AAC range column compares the performance of your student in a specific
subject areas versus students with similar Otis-Lennon scores. Thus a
"low" in the AAC range means the your student did not perform as well
others with similar Otis-Lennon scores and a "high" means they scored
better in the subject area than others with similar Otis-Lennon scores. We pay
attention to “Low” ACC ranges as they indicate that our student, even if
they are doing relatively well, could be doing better. As with the regular
Stanford test scores, make sure the results fit with your knowledge of the
Some closing thoughts...
- Don't put too much weight on one year's score. There can be any number of causes
for a test score to be low or high on a particular test. We test every year
to get a better picture of how they are doing (and it is good practice for
- Don't panic if their test scores are poor, esp. the first year they test and in
the younger grade. Generally, the longer you homeschool, the better the
- We try to prepare our students for the test and to make it something they look
forward to, particularly the first year they test. We don't test before our
students begin reading. We work through the practice tests with them. We buy
juice and treats to make it a bit more fun. We don't require a lot of
additional school work of them on testing week.
in mind that the national mean scores are not all that great. I believe I
have read that the mean of the Lawrence public schools is significantly
higher than 50.
- If you have older students who are doing well, you might consider testing them
at a grade level higher.
- We used the SAT scores to get a good student discount on our student driver's
- We did the SAT tests through our students' 9th grade year. In 10th grade and
beyond, we have switched to the college entrance exams (PSAT, ACT and SAT).
The above is my summary after years of seeking to interpret the results. I
am not a professional. For more detailed information (and likely more accurate),
check out a web site that Jeff recommended last year at http://harcourtassessment.com