Grade-Equivalent Scores

The Grade-equivalent score is a controversial statistic. Woolfolk(1990) states, "Because grade-equivalent scores are misleading and so oftenmisinterpreted, especially by parents, most educators and psychologists believethey should not be used at all." Usually, each grade level has a uniquenorming group for which the mean score is calculated, and each grade takes adifferent test. In scoring, however, any student, regardless of grade, whoacquires that mean score is assigned that particular grade-equivalent score.

For example, assume the mean score for ninth graders in the third month ofschool (9.3) is 50 on the ninth grade version of the test. If a sixth gradergets a 50 on the sixth grade test, he receives a grade-equivalent score of 9.3even though the sixth grader took the sixth grade version of the test. In spiteof the score, the ninth grader probably knows more than the sixth grader.

Therefore, the best way to interpret the sixth grader's grade equivalentscore of 9.3 is to conclude that he did much better than the average sixthgrader and may have an excellent understanding of the work at the sixth gradelevel. If a sixth grader on the same test recieved a score of 5.2 (fifth grade,second month) he scored lower than the average sixth grader. Highergrade-equivalent scores correspond to higher raw scores and the same is true forlow scores.

Grade-equivalent scores should not be thought of as justification foraccelerating a student into a higher grade level.