What is a Raw Score in Special Education Testing?

A Child Works on a Test at his Desk
A Child Works on a Test at his Desk. Child Testing Photo by Getty

Definition: Raw scores are used in standardized, norm-referenced assessment. They are simply the totals of correct responses on tests. Raw scores are usually converted to standard scores using tables provided by test publishers in the administration manuals of the tests. Standard scores enable comparison of a student's performance to that of other children his age. Standard scores also allow comparison of the student's scores on other tests, as in diagnosing learning disabilities.

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Examples: Raw scores on assessments are the simple sum of answers the student answered correctly.

Raw Scores

Standardized tests are designed to assess student skills and knowledge on a broad level in an objective manner under similar conditions. A raw score is the number of responses answered correctly on a given test. This information alone would not suffice in an evaluation of an individual's performance for that assessment. It is used to compare to the original group of students in the same cohort who also took the test. Typically a child's raw scores are converted into percentiles, grade-equivalents, and scaled scores.

Percentiles

This scoring method ranks individuals on a scale from 1-99 with 50 being average. A percentile rank of 60 indicates that the student scored better than 60 percent of the other students in his or her norm group who took the test, and 40 percent scored as well or better than that student.

Percentile does not refer to the percentage of questions answered correctly.

Grade-Equivalents

This scoring method is in the form of a decimal and is oftentimes the most commonly misunderstood form of grading. The first number (number before the decimal point) designates the year of the grade level and the number following the decimal point represents the month of that grade level.

For example, let's say a 2nd grader gets a 4.5. That indicates that an average 4th grader half way through the school year would have scored as well on the same test. The score also represents the 2nd grader's mastery level for that grade level material (5th grade and 5 months).

Scaled Scores

These scores take into account potential differences in difficulty between unique exam forms and are useful when comparing test results over time. Raw score calculations and percent correct scores do not always provide a fair representation as to the knowledge and skills mastered when one form of a test may be harder than the other. A scaled score provides a standard range for test takers and gives a continuous score scale on a range that includes the different forms and levels of a test series.

Edited by Douglas Haddad, Ph.D.

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