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Scoring Terminology Used in Assessment in Special Education NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS

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BASAL A basal is the starting point. It represents the level of mastery of a task below which the student would correctly answer all items on a test.

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Basal All of the items prior to the basal are not given to the student. These items are considered already correct. For example, on an IQ test, the examiner may start with Question 14 because of the age of the child. That is the basal. Here, the student starts with credit given for the first 13 questions.

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CEILING Once the basal is determined, the examiner will administer until the student reaches a ceiling. The ceiling is the point where the student has made a predetermined number of errors and therefore stops administering all other items on this test because it is assumed that the student will continue to get the answers wrong.

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Ceiling The ceiling is the ending point. It represents the level of mastery of a task above which the student would incorrectly answer all future items on a test. For example, if on a spelling test a child got numbers 15 to 24 wrong, and the ceiling is 10 incorrect in a row, this means that the examiner would stop administering spelling words to the child because the ceiling has been obtained.

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RAW SCORES When you administer any test, the first step in scoring almost always will be to calculate the number of correct items the student obtained. For example, if a student took a 20-question spelling test in your class, the first thing you would do is determine how many words the student spelled correctly. This score is known as the raw score. The raw score normally indicates the number of items correctly answered on a given test. In almost all cases, it is the first score a teacher obtains when interpreting data.

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Raw Scores A raw score is a test score that has not been weighted, transformed, or statistically manipulated. Now, in general, raw scores by themselves mean very little. For example, suppose the student in your class got 18 out of 20 correct on the spelling test. The number 18 has no real meaning. What is important is what you do with the 18. For example, most teachers would say the student got 18 out of 20 and turn it into a percentage indicating that the student got 90% (18/20 is 90%) on this test.

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STANDARD SCORES A standard score is a score that has been transformed to fit a normal curve, with a mean and standard deviation that remain the same across ages. Normally, standard scores have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15.

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Standard Scores Perhaps the most well-known version of the standard score with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 is the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Using this scoring system, a child with a standard score of 115 would be 1 standard deviation above the mean, whereas a child with a standard score of 85 would be 1 standard deviation below the mean. Also, the percentage of scores between a standard score of 85 and 115 is 68%.

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Standard Scores Often, when doing assessment, you will have to tell parents and administrators the standard scores the child received on the given test and the appropriate classification that they represent.

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STANDARD SCORE & CLASSIFICATION STANDARD SCORE CLASSIFICATION Less than 70Developmentally Delay 70–79Well Below Average 80–89Low Average 90–109Average 110–119High Average 120–129Superior 130 and higherVery Superior

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PERCENTILE RANKS (PERCENTILES) A percentile rank (often referred to as a percentile) is a score indicating the percentage of people or scores that occur at or below a given score. For example, if you have a percentile rank of 75 in a class, this means that you did as well as or better than 75% of the students in the class. A percentile rank of 16 means that you scored as well as or better than only 16% of the population.

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Percentile Rank Percentile ranks range from the lowest (1st percentile) to the highest (99th percentile). The 50th percentile normally signifies the average ranking or average performance. Knowing that a child had a percentile rank of 97 on a test would tell you that he is exceptional in this testing area, yet, knowing that he got a percentile rank of 7 would tell you that this is an area of weakness.

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Importance of PR In assessment, percentile ranks are very important because they indicate how well a child did when compared to the norms on a test.

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STANINES A stanine, an abbreviation for standard nines, is a type of standard score that has a mean of 5 and a standard deviation of 2. Stanine scores can range from 1 to 9.

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Stanines A stanine of 7 is 1 standard deviation above the mean (5 + 2). A stanine of 9 is 2 standard deviations above the mean ( ). Conversely, a stanine of 3 is 1 standard deviation below the mean (5 – 2) A stanine of 1 is two standard deviations below the mean (5 – 2 – 2).

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AGE EQUIVALENT SCORES An age equivalent is a very general score that is used to compare the performance of children at the same age with one another. It is the estimated age level that corresponds to a given score. Age equivalent scores are almost always given in years and months. For example, a child who gets an age equivalent score of 11-5 is performing as well as the average 11 year, 5 month old child.

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GRADE EQUIVALENT SCORES A grade equivalent is a very general score that is used to compare the performance of children in the same grade with one another. It is the estimated grade level that corresponds to a given score. Grade equivalent scores are almost always given in years and months in school. For example, a child who gets a grade equivalent score of 3.5 is performing as well as the average student in the 3rd grade, 5th month.

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