Understanding Stanines

June 13th, 2008

Stanines are used to compare an individual student’s achievement with the results obtained by a national reference sample chosen to represent a certain year level. Stanines divide the distribution of results for a year group into nine categories. Most students, when compared with their own year level, achieve around stanines four, five, and six. Stanines seven, eight, and nine represent comparatively high achievement for a year group, while stanines one, two, and three indicate comparatively low achievement.

It is important to remember that the national reference sample data for the PAT tests was collected in March. This means that when a test is administered at the end of the year it will be more appropriate to make stanine comparisons with the next highest year level. Stanines for the STAR test are available for several points in the year (For example for the Year 4 to 9 STAR Tests, stanines within each year level can be reported for February to May, June to August and September to December). The nearest time point to the date the test was administered should be selected for reporting stanines.

The figure below shows how the nine stanines for a Year level break the PAT:Reading scale into 9 regions. Apart from stanines 1 and 9 each the width of each region is the same. More information about stanines and how they were derived can be found in the teacher manuals.

Stanines and the PAT:Reading Scale

Understanding stanines

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