Standardized Testing

Emmaus Lutheran School uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills each year as an assessment tool for school and individual student progress.

Understanding How to Read the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) Test Results

This document has been created in order to help a parent to interpret the data results from the ITBS score. Emmaus Lutheran School tests its students in April of each spring, and has comparison scores for classes from 2009.

The ITBS is a norm-referenced test created by the University of Iowa to show mastery of academic skills found in the elementary curriculum. It has been used across the nation in similar form since 1935, and it is supported by research and documentation.

It is important to test students annually in order:

To understand individual profiles of students

To evaluate group strengths and needs

To look at long term curriculum strengths and development opportunities

To provide insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses in specific subject areas

To monitor student progress over time

To identify areas for enrichment or remediation in differentiating student instruction.

When one looks at the ITBS scores, one must remember to think about the validity of the test. There are some conditions to consider when doing this:

Testing conditions—although teachers try to idealize the conditions for testing, one student’s ideal may not be a different student’s ideal. Conditions vary from classroom to classroom, school to school, making it impossible for testing conditions always to be the same.

Amount of experience with standardized tests, particularly the times component—Students who practice the methodology used in standardized testing (multiple choice, timed tests), especially in their regular classroom activities, will have an advantage over students who have not had exposure to different types of testing options. Students in higher grades generally score better (obviously) because more experience in test taking is in play.

Individual variables—This is the largest category for differentiation in variables. Teachers look at individual conditions (does a student test well normally, did the student get enough sleep, did he eat a good breakfast, is there a learning challenge that must factor into the testing process, etc.) In addition, teachers generally monitor the testing process itself (did the student finish quickly, did it appear he was just marking answers, was he focused or distracted, was the student fidgeting with pencils, erasers, etc.). Knowing your child’s behavior patterns in school as well and discussing any unusual factors with your child’s teacher help to determine your child’s individual variables.

Curriculum variables—There is a vast array of curriculum used in private schools at different grade levels. Even following state and federal guidelines, material on the test may not have been covered at the same time in one school as it has in another.

Teaching to the test—Emmaus Lutheran is committed to not teaching to the test, as it is hoped that is true for all schools.

Number of Non-English speakers taking the test—Emmaus has several English Language Learners that are a part of our school. Their ability to successfully take and contribute to the ITBS will have a direct effect on overall testing outcomes (when looked at as a class instead of individuals). Language, reading and comprehension in many cases will be difficult for English Language Learners to assess, especially in a timed matter.

It is important to keep the standardized tests in perspective. As suggested above, these tests are used in a variety of ways. The tests are not necessarily benchmark tests as to what the student has learned during the current school year, and should not be evaluated as such. Students study for the content of the test each day he or she is in school, collecting knowledge through all of the academic studies beginning in Kindergarten.

If you are concerned about your child’s test scores, speak with your child’s teacher for further clarification. He or she will be able to make suggestions and help analyze data in order to best serve your child’s specific needs.


This number is an indication ranging from 1 to 99, showing what “percentile” your child’s score corresponds to in relation to others taking the same test and the same time of year.

Please note that this is NOT the percent correct.

Use this chart to help determine where your child is at:

Achievement Level NPR
Very High 96-99
Above Average 76-95
Average 25-75
Below Average 5-24
Very Low 1-4

Example: My 7th grade student scored in the 79th percentile in math computation.

This means that she scored higher than 78 percent of the 7th grade students on whom the test was normed.

SCHOOL NORM (SN) The Emmaus Lutheran percentile average based on all schools that have nationally taken the test. Anything above 50 is considered above average.

A number that describes a student’s achievement per grade level and months into the grade, based on a 10-month school year.

Example—My 4th grade child received a 6.3 GE in math computation.

This indicates that her score is like the one a typical student in the third month of sixth grade would likely get on that same test.

Grade Equivalency DOES NOT indicate a student’s instructional level. Grade Equivalency DOES allow for comparison of growth over time.


Normalized standard scores, ranging in value from 1-9, whose distribution has a mid-point range of 5. Anything above 5 is considered above average.

Stanine scores show a student’s relative position in a group of students who took the same test at the same time of year nationally.

1,2, or 3 is below average

4,5, or 6 is average

7,8, or 9 is above average

Another way to look at it is:

Cognitive Level S
Very High 9
Above Average 7-8
Average 4,5 and 6
Below Average 2-3
Very Low 1
STANDARD SCORES (SS) This is used to convert raw scores into numbers that are able to be compared, and can describe a student’s location on an achievement continuum. This is a means to compare individual performance to the normed sample.

Use this chart to help to better understand the comparison between Stanine (NS) and National Percentile Ranks (NPR)

9 96 and up
8 89-95
7 77-88
6 60-76
5 40-59
4 23-39
3 11-22
2 4-10
1 Below 4




Emmaus Lutheran School and Preschool

840 South Almansor Street Alhambra, CA 91801

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