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Third graders top national test score average

POSTED: January 12, 2009 6:38 p.m.

Effingham County third grade students remain slightly above the national average, and eighth grade students are at the national average, according to the scores from the fall Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

The ITBS is a nationally standardized test, and it’s administered to each test taker across to the performance of other students in those same grades across the nation. It is a norm reference test because it compares students’ abilities rather than criteria, said Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff.

“The CRCT, for example, is a criterion reference competency test that holds students accountable for content knowledge as established by Georgia’s performance standards,” he said. “The ITBS, however, allows educators to get a look at the performance of their students in relation to the rest of the nation. A norm reference test is designed to highlight achievement differences among students.”

Arnsdorff said the test gives comprehensive information about the development of students’ skills and their ability to think critically. The test compares the students to their peers — all the scores are comparisons to other students across the nation in the same grade who took the test in the fall.

For this year’s ITBS, the Department of Education dropped a grade level out of the testing and allowed districts to chose which grade not to give the ITBS again. Effingham County School System opted not to give the ITBS to the fifth grade this year.

ITBS results in the third grade allow the school system to identify students who may be a part of the gifted and talented program at an early age, Arnsdorff said.

Arnsdorff said the results give principals, administrators, teachers and parents data about how the district, school, class and student did in relation to other students in the nation.  He said the results are reported using two criteria, percentile rank and stanine.

Percentile rank is measured from one to 99 and stanine is shown as one to nine.

For stanine scores one is very poor, two is poor, three is considerably below average, four is slightly below average, five is average, six is slightly above average, seven is considerably above average, eight is superior and nine is very superior.

Reading, language and math make up the core total scores and test students on reading comprehension, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, expression, math concepts, problem solving, data interpretation and computation. Students also are tested in social studies, science and sources of information.

Third grade students had a stanine score of six in every subject tested, and eighth grade students had a stanine score of five in every subject area.

“Even though most of our work is focused on the Criterion Reference Competency Test based on the Georgia Performance Standards, when you look at things that national tests are concerned about, our students still score very well, and have continued to score very well over time,” Arnsdorff said.

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