The Terra Nova tests are administered to students from kindergarten to 12th grade in most of the United States to measure their capabilities in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies. These classic fill-in-the-bubble tests compare each student's scores to other students around the country to indicate where a student stands on a national level. Being able to interpret your child's Terra Nova scores can help you determine how he compares with other students in his grade level. The Terra Nova tests used to be called the California Achievement Tests or CATs and are considered standardized tests. This means that all students taking the Terra Nova test take the same test or have a section of questions from the same set of questions. Additionally, scoring is done in a standard way for easy score comparison between tests across the country.

Subject Area Scores

To better understand Terra Nova scores, first read over all of your child's scores for each of the subject areas. Each of these subject area scores will be reported as a percentile number. For example, your child may have scored in the 89th percentile for reading and in the 70th percentile for math.

National Percentile Scores

Next, rate your child's score compared to the national percentile score, or NP, on a scale between 1 and 100. For example, if your student scored in the 89th percentile in reading, she therefore scored higher than 89 percent of students nationally in her age and grade level group. When looking over standardized test scores, keep in mind that the test scores are only a snapshot of that day's testing performance. Standardized testing scores can be helpful in identifying academic abilities but parents and teachers should not use them as the only form of assessment or qualification of a student's talents and skills.

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National Stanine Scores

Find your child's percentile score in the range of national stanines, or NS scores. You should receive a document with those NS scores provided with the Terra Nova test results. The stanine scores break down the percentiles into nine smaller groups so that you can rank your child's score on a scale of one to nine with one being the lowest and nine being the highest. A student scoring in the 89th percentile falls into the seventh stanine.

Request Scale Scores

Parents and teachers can also request student scores to include scale scores and normal curve equivalent scores which provide additional ways to interpret the scores based on special student needs. These scores incorporate more than just the student's Terra Nova scores and will not appear on a basic score report. If you have questions regarding your student's particular performance, consult a teacher or administrator at your school for help with interpreting the scores or taking steps to help your student improve.

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.