Three of the fundamental purposes for testing a student's communication skills are (1) to describe the student's developmental level , (2) to identify a student's areas of relative strength and weakness, and (3) to monitor year-to-year growth of speech and language skills.



The majority of tests administered by a speech/language pathologist are norm-referenced tests.  This is a type of test in which a student's performance is compared to a norm or average of performance of other, similar students.


What do all those test scores mean?


This term comes from the combination of the words "standard of nine." It rates a child's achievement on a scale from 1-9 based on a coarse grouping of the scores. In general, a stanine of 1, 2, or 3 indicates below average achievement. A stanine of 4, 5, or 6 indicates average achievement, while 7, 8, or 9 indicate above average.


Percentile scores give parents a more detailed description of how their children compare with other students who took the test by showing scores that range from 1 to 99.

For example, if a student scored in the 66th percentile on

a test, that student achieved a score that is higher than 66% of the other students who took the test.  So, if 100 students took the test, the student in the 66th percentile scored higher than 66 students.


Grade-level equivalent scores are determined by giving a test that is developed for a particular grade to students in other grades.  Grade-level equivalent scores are often misunderstood; be careful when you interpret them.  If a 4th grader received a 7th grade equivalent score on a 4th grade reading achievement test, the parents may believe their child is ready for 7th grade material.  Actually, the score means that the child reads 4th grade material as well as the average 7th grader. It also lets you know the 4th grader mastered the material very well and answered most of the questions correctly.


A standard score indicates how far a particular score is from a test's average.  The unit that tells the distance from the average is the standard deviation (SD) for that test.  Standard scores are expressing in whole numbers with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15.  The standard deviation is always given for a standard score.  Standard scores between -1 sd (85) and +1 sd (115) fall in the normal range on the ability being tested.





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