TerraNova Testing

Understanding Your Child's TerraNova Test Scores

You probably remember your child mentioning a few long days of testing that they’ve experienced in April.  This testing typically occurs for three days and is administered to all 1st thru 12th graders enrolled at Firm Foundation Christian School (FFCS).  We have always participated in standardized testing at FFCS, but began administering the TerraNova test in 2012. 

You recently received your child’s scores for the TerraNova tests they took last April.  We wanted to follow up to ensure you understood:

  • The way that the test is scored
  • How student test scores at FFCS measure up collectively
  • How FFCS responds to the test results

The way that the test is scored

TerraNova is an achievement test, not a proficiency test such as the state administers. Proficiency tests are those in which students have been taught all the content and are now being tested on whether or not they “got” it. Achievement tests include content students may not have been specifically taught, but that they could be expected to have mastered according to their cognitive ability.

TerraNova provides test results in percentiles.  Percentiles are “rank order” scores and are not the same thing as percentages. For example, a percentage of 60 means that a student got 6 out of 10 questions correct; while a percentile of 60 means that in a national group of 100 students in the same grade, the student scored higher than 59 of them. So by definition, any percentile above 50 would mean that the score is “average” to “above average.”

How student test scores at FFCS measure up collectively 

The TerraNova Test is broken into nine main categories including: Reading, Vocabulary, Language, Language Mechanics (not 1st graders), Mathematics, Math Computation, Science, Social Studies, and Spelling (not 1st graders).

We review all category results carefully, and we discuss our school Reading, Math and Language scores the most extensively – as those are often considered the core educational components.

Last year, FFCS scored above the National Median (i.e. 50) in all three categories for all grades (1st – 12th).* In fact, many of the grades scored well-above the National Median. Given that all students, even those with academic challenges, are now included in the scores. Out of all subjects across all grades, only four were slightly below the national median.

How FFCS responds to the test results

FFCS has a collective, and individual, TerraNova test score goal of 65. During teacher in-service days (often in August), staff spends time analyzing the previous year’s test results in two ways:

  • Teachers look at the test scores of their incoming students to help prepare appropriate classroom curriculum and individualized student plans (as necessary).
  • Teachers and administrators collectively look at the test scores of the students the teacher taught the previous year. This is done to evaluate how the teacher performed and ways the administrator can provide teaching support for the upcoming year (as necessary).