Placement Testing

Testing Options

New students

New students enrolling in grades 2–12 must take one of our standardized entrance tests, which are the primary instruments used by our Curriculum Department to determine appropriate curriculum assignments.

You have three options:

  • Paper CAT is the original paper form of the nationally standardized California Achievement Test (1970 edition). It has been successfully used by Christian Liberty for over twenty years to help place students in an appropriate grade level. The test has five levels, covering grades 2–12.
  • Online CAT is a Web-based version of the paper-based 1970 edition of the California Achievement Test (see below).
  • TestPoint™ is an online grade level placement test that has been developed, tested, and used in Christian schools around the nation. It is a good choice for most families. TestPoint is available for students entering K–12, but entrance testing for kindergarten and first grade is optional.

Results from both online tests are usually available within one business day from when the test has been completed. Results from the paper cat are usually sent with the curriculum and can take several weeks to be received.

Because these tests are used to determine an appropriate curriculum, make your student aware that his best effort is required and establish an atmosphere that will facilitate proper concentration.

If you live in a state that requires reporting of achievement test results, the CAT (online or paper) is the right choice for you. Results from the 1970 edition of the CAT are accepted by many of these states.

Re-enrolling students 

Re-enrolling students are sent the paper-version CAT with their curriculum for annual testing purposes only. Although not required by CLH, we send this test so you can annually measure your student’s progress. You may, however, choose our exclusive online version of the California Achievement Test—at no extra cost. Simply indicate your choice on the enrollment application. The results will be sent to you within one business day. Of course, you can still use the paper version if you wish.

Why the 1970 Edition CAT?

CLH uses the 1970 edition of the CAT because it offers a consistent benchmark for comparing student abilities. This consistency allows us to make more accurate choices when selecting a student’s curriculum. The 1970 edition was selected because it is more demanding than the more recent editions—and therefore more in line with our curriculum.

Are Other Tests Acceptable?

For enrollment purposes CLH does accept the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, as well as other editions of the CAT, if the test:

  1. is appropriate for the grade level entering,
  2. was taken within six months of enrollment, and
  3. shows Grade Equivalent scores for the following seven major test areas:
Comprehension ComputationMechanics
MechanicsConcepts & ProblemsUsage & Structure

Because of differences in the test, CLH does not accept the Stanford Achievement Test for enrollment purposes. Even if this test was recently taken, your student will still need to take one of the tests we provide.

When to Test

New Students

Unless you have taken one of our approved standardized tests within the last six months through Christian Liberty Press’ Independent Testing Service (or some other service), new students are sent the standardized test the family has selected after their application has been received and prior to curriculum development.

If you have acceptable tests that were taken outside of CLH, you should include a copy with your enrollment application. If the test is acceptable, we will use it to develop your student’s curriculum; we will not send a standardized test with your curriculum materials for this enrollment.

Re-enrolling Students

Because CLH does not require standardized testing for re-enrolling students, you may take the paper CAT anytime throughout the year. However, we recommend that your student take it at the same time each year (e.g., at the start or the end of his school year) so that an accurate progression of achievement can be measured.

Pre-Test Requested

Some re-enrolling families request that their student be pre-tested prior to curriculum development. They usually do this for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. The student was remedial in a particular subject area but has completed additional course work outside of CLH to bring him up to grade level.
  2. The student has done additional course work outside of CLH and the family wants to have him removed from Special Status.
  3. The student has done additional course work outside of CLH and the family wants him to skip a grade level (not allowable at high school).

Unless additional course work was pursued outside of CLH, pre-testing a re-enrolling student will rarely affect his course assignment (usually it only delays the arrival of his books). The information presented in most courses is built upon the previous year’s material. Skipping a grade level in a subject can cause gaps in a student’s learning that can adversely affect his education in the years to come.

How CLH Interprets Your Results

Based on a student’s standardized test scores, the Curriculum Department staff will generally respond in one of two ways:

Scores fall within the standard range

When scores fall within the required range for the requested grade level, we will assign the curriculum for the requested grade level along with any course choices you make that are appropriate, based on the range of the test scores, the student’s course load, and previous academic record.

Scores fall below the standard range

When scores fall below the required range for the requested grade level, we will communicate to the family and await the family’s response before proceeding. Further correspondence may be required in the case of high school transfer students. Standardized test scores may affect the assignment of any course choices you make.

Once the curriculum has been developed and shipped, we depend on your feedback to refine the curriculum when necessary. Inform CLH promptly if materials which appear on the student’s packing list are missing or if the materials received do not match the packing list. If you feel that any of the assignments are too challenging or not challenging enough, you may request a curriculum adjustment by contacting us.

How to Interpret Results

Several different numbers are listed on your standardized test results sheet. Most of these are calculated based on a norm group (the original group of students tested on which the test is standardized). Results are listed by academic area. Below are basic definitions for these scores.

Raw Scores

Raw scores are the actual number of correct answers within a given test section, and are used to calculate the Grade Equivalent, Percentile, and Stanine results. They should not be used for any kind of comparison or statistical calculation since each test section varies in the difficulty and number of questions.

Grade Equivalent Scores

Grade equivalent scores represent the grade level (year and month separated by a decimal point) of a student’s ability compared to the median score of students at the same academic level.

Scores that are above a student’s grade level do not by themselves indicate proficiency to skip to the next grade level in particular academic areas. These scores more likely show an understanding of only some of the concepts of that higher grade. Conversely, scores below a student’s grade level may indicate a gap of understanding in those academic areas. Scores equal to a student’s grade level are considered the minimum for grade level ability.

Percentile Scores

Percentile scores are equivalent to the percentage of students from the norm group who received lower scores than the student. For example: a student with a percentile score of 73 means that the student did better than approximately 73 percent of the students in the norm group. Percentile scores do not represent the number of questions answered correctly.

Percentiles are useful for comparing a student’s performance over several sections on the test. However, because they are not measured on an equal scale of units, they are not suitable for most statistical calculations.

Stanine Scores

Derived from the term STAndard score from a NINE-unit scale, stanines are based on the mean of the norm group (who are given the score of 5) and a standard deviation of 2.0. Scores are determined by the amount of standard deviation from the norm group, in approximately one-half standard deviation increments.

The following table lists the meaning of each score:

Add this score to the adjusted daily work score from above to determine your true final daily work score.

9 Highest level 6 Slightly Above Average 3 Well Below Average
8 High level5 Average 2 Low level
7 Well Above Average 4 Slightly Below Average1 Lowest level

Stanine scores are useful in calculating means, correlation coefficients, and other statistics which are meaningful to test evaluators.

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