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Meaning of a Low Stanford Test Score for Kindergarten

by Katrice Morris

Stanford tests are standardized, nationally-normed tests administered in kindergarten through 12th grade. In kindergarten, students are tested in reading and math. The test is read aloud in a whole-group setting and can be administered in the fall, winter or spring. Scores are reported as a grade level equivalent as well as a percentile score and stanine score. Low scores could indicate a problem with focus, a learning difficulty or a lack of exposure to a subject area. Other assessments and classroom performance should be taken into account when interpreting low scores.

Unreliable Results

Standardized testing is difficult in kindergarten, because scores are less reliable in younger children. Performance is affected by the child's emotional state and attention span. Results can also vary over time, as children develop at different rates. Testing itself can cause changes in routines and distractions which can also influence test scores. Initially low test scores may increase with subsequent testing, so low Stanford scores should be compared with other measurements of performance and watched over time.

Attention Difficulties

A low test score in kindergarten could mean the child has trouble with attention span and focusing. The Stanford test is read aloud to students, requiring them to pay attention. Students who frequently daydream or get off task may miss the instructions. This test is administered to whole group, requiring students to keep up with the class, which may be problematic for students who have trouble staying focused. If other indicators of achievement, such as classroom work and assessments, show the student is on level, a low score could indicate the need to look further into possible attention issues.

Additional Support Needed

If a child receives a low Stanford score that is consistent with other classroom data, it may mean the child needs more support in that area to be successful. Remediation in reading or math can be provided both in and out of the classroom. Parents should be given strategies for working with their child at home. The child may not have had experience with numbers and letters before entering kindergarten and may simply need additional exposure to these concepts. Progress should be monitored to ensure the instructional methods being used are connecting with the child. Trying different instructional strategies may be beneficial.

Learning Challenges

Low scores may indicate an undiagnosed learning issue. Kindergarten students are just beginning their academic career and learning difficulties may emerge for the first time. Additional factors should be taken into consideration when considering this possibility. For example, notice if a student does well in one area, but poorly in others. Classroom assessments and work should also correlate with the scores in order for them to be considered accurate. Take into consideration the student’s background and previous exposure to the material. The Sanford test score will be one indicator of a possible issue that could lead to a recommendation for further testing.

About the Author

Katrice Morris is an educator based in Georgia. She has six years of classroom teaching experience in the primary grades and certified to teach grades Pre-K through 8 in the state of Georgia. She holds an Master of Education in instructional leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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