Children are often given formal assessments or standardized tests to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. Test results may be used to determine if a child qualifies for speech-language therapy services and to determine what areas to target. But really, what do standard scores, raw scores, age-equivalents and percentile ranks all mean?
A raw score indicates how many answers a child correctly answered on an assessment. This number is then used to determine all the other scores indicated on a formal assessment report.
Standard scores help us better understand how a child performs on a test in relation to other children of the same age. (Ages on standardized tests are often in six month bands. For example, age groupings for a 6 year old would be 6 years – 6 years and 6 months or 6 years and 6 months – 6 years and 11 months.) The results help us determine if the child is performing at, above or below the performance of other children of similar age.
Percentile ranks are used to determine how well a student is performing in relation to other children of the same age taking the test.
- 83rd percentile means that a child has scored as well as or better than 83% of children of the same age taking the test.
- 3rd percentile means that a child has scored as well as or better than 3% of children of the same age taking the test.
A percentile rank does not indicate the percent of correct answers a child received on a test.
To come up with an age-equivalence, the child’s raw score is taken and compared to the scores of all the children taking the test. A 3 years and 8 month old child’s results might show an age-equivalent score of 4 years and 11 months. This does not mean that the child can do the work of a child who is 4 years and 11 months but instead means that the score is typical of a child who is 4 years and 11 months. Due to confusion and misinterpretation, age-equivalence is sometimes left off of test results.
Some test results will include scoring in all ways listed above and others will not. Age-equivalent scores are not always included in results because this information can be misleading.
If you need help understanding your child’s speech-language assessment, then contact SpeechWorks at 262-490-5653.
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC, a provider of on-site speech therapy in Oconomowoc, Dousman, Delafield, Ixonia, Watertown, Hartland & Pewaukee. SpeechWorks helps children become confident communicators and empowers parents to be their child’s speech-language advocate.