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Terranova Test Scores

July 16, 2010

Dear Parents,

Enclosed are your child's Terranova Achivement Test scores.

You will find two pieces of paper. The first, "Home Report," shows a bar graph.

Please note your child's "grade level." If your child is in grade 6.8, that means she took the test in the eighth month of sixth grade.

The gray band across the center of the page shows the range of scores for an average student. If your child's score falls in this range, congratulations! Your child is on grade level! If some of your child's scores are above average, that is even more wonderful. If some scores are below the average range, these pinpoint areas of concern for us to work on next year.

Please pay particular attention to the three most important scores: the Reading Composite, the Math Composite, and the Language Composite score. These are your child's overall scores; the other bars represent sub-tests that contribute to these overall scores. The Total Score is the average of these three scores.

On the second sheet you will find an Individual Profile. This is intended to help the teacher see exactly which problems on the test each child has answered incorrectly, but we have chosen to share this school report with you as well. Look at your child's percentile score for each individual performance objective. If your child's score on "Multiplying Whole Numbers," for instance, is relatively low, you will know you should work on the multiplication tables over the summer.

On the back of the Individual Profile, you will find some "Norm-Referenced" statistics which compare your child to others who took this test. The "NP," or National Percentile, is the same score which is shown on the bar graph on the Home Report. This score compares your child to every child across the United States who took this test. If your child scored 70% on a particular sub-test, it means he or she did better than 70% of all the children in the country who took this particular test.

Parents are often concerned when they see a score such as 75%. They may think that this means their child has only completed 75% of the test questions correctly. (That would mean a grade of C, so no wonder they are concerned.)

However, this is not the meaning of the percentile score. If your child has earned an NP score of 75%, this means your child is in the top 25% of all the students in his or her grade who took the test this year across the entire country. This puts your child in the top quarter of all students, an achievement of which we should all be proud.

"GME" or Grade Mean Equivalent is also a highly interesting score. A child may have a Grade Equivalent which is higher than his or her actual grade level. A child who is only in the eighth month of second grade (2.8), for instance, might have a Math score of 4.8.

This means that he did as well taking the second grade test as the average child in the eighth month of fourth grade. (It does not mean, however, that he did many fourth grade problems, because, unfortunately, there were only a few on the second grade test.)

We are simply amazed at some of the GME scores we see our students have earned this year.

One reason we administer Terranovas is to find areas of relative weakness on which individual students need to work.

We notice that several students need extra work on math computation. We urge you to make sure your child is spending some time each evening working computation problems as part of math homework. Sometimes, when students have moved on to conceptually difficult topics such as Pre-Algebra, we forget that they still need to practice multiplication and division just a little bit each day to keep up their skills and their speed.

We are very disappointed to see that quite a few students score lower in vocabulary and reading comprehension than in other areas of the test. As much as we read and work on vocabulary during the school day, this work in school cannot take the place of wide reading to broaden a child's vocabulary.

It may be that, when parents see that their children are strong readers, they feel they do not need to do anything further to encourage reading at home.

But the more children read, the better they will perform on standardized reading and writing tests, and the better they will be prepared for college. Schoolwork is about basic literacy, but it is at home that a child develops a love for reading.

Is your child spending too much time on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games, and not enough time each day reading for pleasure? Even valuable scheduled activities such as soccer or music practice should not take the place of daily reading.

There are such a wonderful variety of books available for children today. Does your student prefer non-fiction? Biography? How-to-do-it books? Magazines for children? Newspapers? What about fiction? Does your student read novels? Science fiction? Adventure stories? Historical fiction? Stories about friendship?

You do not need to spend a lot of money on books to establish the reading habit. How about a weekly visit to your local library?

No amount of reading instruction in school can take the place of reading at home, every day, for pleasure. Read, read, read. And read TO your child as well, no matter what her age.

Even when children read a great deal on their own, they may be skipping unfamiliar words. You, as parents, need to take particular steps to make sure your child is learning new vocabulary words when he reads. You should ask your child to circle unfamiliar words or write them on a piece of paper or post-it note. Then you should go over these words with your child, look back at the passage, and explain the meaning in context. If the words are unfamiliar to you, too, then you should look them up in a dictionary with your child, and go back and interpret the passage.

This is especially important for children whose families speak a second language at home. Even when your child is fluent in English, her vocabulary may suffer relative to third or fourth generation English speakers because you, yourself, do not use as rich a vocabulary as some others do. This is a very common issue for first and second generation Americans, especially when they speak Asian languages which do not share many cognate words with English.

I would like to share with you our school's statistics.

Our second graders' Grade Equivalent scores are as follows:

Goodness gracious! Our second graders are reading as if they were 4th graders, and editing and punctuting as if they were 6th graders! Their Mathematics scores are like those of 5th graders!

Our third graders' scores are as follows:

On average, our third graders performed as well as average 8th graders would have performed, had they taken this test. I find that amazing. I certainly look forward to teaching this wonderful group of students in 4th grade next year.

The scores in our Upper School are equally impressive:

Our Fourth Graders' average scores are as follows:

Here are our Fifth Graders' average scores:

Our Sixth Graders' scores are as follows:

Our average 7th grade scores are as follows:

Our 6th and 7th graders are performing as if they were 11th to 12th graders! The highest GME score one can earn is 12.9, the ninth month of 12th grade. Remember, however, that these are average scores. Many individual children have disappointing scores on particular subtests.

Our average 8th grade scores:

Our 8th grade students are, at average, at the ceiling of the scores possible, the last month of 12th grade. Years of grading college papers lead me to believe that the average college student would not score as well on these exams as our middle school students do. Hey, what about that spelling score, though? Why is that not perfect?

Our scores clearly show the cumulative advantage of each year spent at the Spring School.

Enjoy your summer! If you have any questions about your child's scores, please call me at school to discuss them. I am in and out of the office, but I will certainly return your call as soon as I can. We can also set up conferences with most teachers.

Sincerely, Dr. Deborah Knapp, Director