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Post date: Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Calculating correct stanines when testing at different times of the year

When reporting data from NZCER standardised tests using stanines, you need to think about:

  • The time of year you are testing
  • The time of year the norming data was taken

Norming studies are carried out with a nationally representative sample of students during the development of a test. They are mostly done during March (for example, all the PAT and STAR tests are normed in March). To convert tests scores to stanines, you need to use the conversion tables provided but it is vital to use the correct one. When you are testing in Term 1 you will get the correct stanine results if you use the conversion table that has been created for the specific test you have used, and then find the column that gives stanine information for the current year level of the student. The norming sample was created in March so testing in Term 1 is a straightforward match to the stanines for that year.

It is more complex when you are testing during Term 4. Because the norms represent one point in time, referencing student test data back to the Term 1 norms of their current year level does not take into account any of the growth we expect to see from a nearly a whole year’s worth of teaching and learning.  A student's level of achievement at the end of the year is much closer to what we expect to see in students at the start of the next year, particularly when we consider the limited amount of teaching and learning that happens over the Christmas holiday break.  For this reason, when testing during Term 4, you will get a much more reliable measure of a student achievement when you reference their raw score result still with the correct test the student has used, but this time use the column that gives stanine information for the one year level above the student’s current year level.

We’ll give some examples in the next blog posting.

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