In another blog post, I wrote about what percentiles mean on standardized tests.
Another score you are likely to see is the grade equivalent (GE) score. They will look something like this: “5.3” or “7.9.” When you see “5.3,” this means students in the 5th grade after the third month of school (September is month zero, October is month one, and so on through June, which is month nine). GE scores can be very misleading.
Let’s think about the score of “7.1” (7th grade, in October). A very large sample group of students in the 7th grade are given the test during October. If your 7th grade child scores an average score compared to this sample group at the same time of year, then she is said to be functioning at the “7.1” level. But, if your child scores much higher than average, her GE score will be reported as being higher. If she received a “9.6,” that means the test makers are estimating that she scored about the same as a 9th grader taking the same test would have scored in March of their 9th-grade year.
As a parent, if you see “9.6” you might think your child is ready for 9th grade. But, remember that your child was never tested on 9th grade material; he was tested on 7th grade material and did better than the average 7th grader in the sample group did.
It is helpful to know whether your child is functioning on grade level. But, be very careful if the GE score shows her functioning at a higher level. Grade equivalent scores are not meant to be interpreted that way.
Parents: Are there other types of scores you’d like me to address in my SchoolFamily.com blog space? If so, please let me know by leaving the information in the comments section (below). Test scores are very confusing, even for many teachers who need to be able to explain them to parents!