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Many a parent of a gifted child has received a test score report listing "GE > 12.9", which reads Grade Equivalent is greater than a student in the ninth month of 12th grade.

Unsurprisingly, some parents immediately think, "Wow, my 7th grader is achieving above a high school level! She should be grade skipped." Most schools respond with an emphatic: NO, end of discussion. Frustration ensues, as parents and schools fail to agree on how to best meet the needs of the very bright student.

Understanding the precise needs of a highly or profoundly gifted child can be aided by a thorough evaluation of the student. It is crucial, however, that everyone reading the test results understands what the numbers really mean. Grade Equivalent scores are one of the most often misunderstood scores listed in a report.

Grade Equivalents scores describe performance on norm-referenced achievement tests, like the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement-III. Grade Equivalents take a student's raw score and compares it to the average number of correct raw answers students in other grades have earned on the same test. Age Equivalent scores report the same information, using the student's age rather than grade placement.

For example, a 3rd grader receiving a GE of 6.4 does NOT mean the child is performing at the 6th grade-4th month level. Instead, the GE tells us that the 3rd grader answered the same number of questions correctly as 6th grade students did, on average. It is possible that the 3rd grader answered all the questions designed for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade knowledge with 100% accuracy, but did not answer a single 6th grade question correctly.

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March 29, 2020


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