No, it’s not a fancy kind of ceramic flooring. Really it’s a type of score used on a standardized achievement test. The percentile has a few common friends like the GE, the stanine, and the SAI. With names like that our mini-series ought to be pretty interesting! In case you missed the last post – we at Online Education for Kids are going to start our own mini-series on testing. We hope you can join us!
Well to begin – I can’t even talk about standardized tests without voicing my opinion about them. Standardized tests can be used as a very effective tool in educating children. Yet, to me a problem arises when over-reliance or over-emphasis is placed on this or any ONE test’s results. Keep in mind that standardized testing can be limited in their reliability. It is one test taken on ONE day or a FEW days for several hours a day. A child’s physical or mental condition could drastically affect the score. Sick? Tired? Missed breakfast? Stressed? Test Anxiety? All of these are reasons for us to remember that it is only “one” test. In determining a child’s progress or achievement we must look at every aspect of his or her life. OK, now that I have that off my chest – just what exactly is a percentile?
A percentile is probably the most commonly used score among educators for discussing results of standardized achievement tests. The percentile is often confused with a percent grade, but it is really a different creature. The percentile means “per hundred” and is a rank measurement with the average score being 50. For example, the score 76 percentile, simply means that for the 100 students used as the “standardized” or test group – your child scored higher than 76 of them. Or to reverse it – there are 76 students in the “norm” group that scored lower than your child. Since the average score is 50 this means that your child is somewhat above average. Due to the fact that standardized tests are “norm referenced” they can be compared to different tests that are also “norm referenced.” So in a sense your percentile score is portable. If your child takes another norm referenced test you can compare the scores. Just in case you’re wondering what “norm referenced” means – test makers compare student test scores to a predetermined “norm” group of students. They used this group to “test” the test as it was being created. It is kinda like holding up a yardstick – the same yardstick – to see how every child measures up. The uses for this are limitless – but obviously can help the child’s parents or teacher determine where weak areas are or where the child may need a bit of review.
Hope you join us next week for the next installment of the Testing mini-series!
P.S. Here I go one more time 🙂 – Again, any test is simply a tool to give educators or parents an idea of where the child is achieving compared to that yardstick. Under no condition should a life changing decision be made based upon one test. Protect those children – they are a wonderful work in progress.