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Terra Nova Test: Discrepancy in Math Group and Score

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 8-year-old son just finished second grade today. I was informed last week that he will be placed in the "Average" math group (the lowest) for third grade, the other two groups being "High-Average" and "Compacted". I was shocked today when I got his Terra Nova scores and saw he scored 74 in Reading, 99 in Language and 99 in Math. His Total Score was 97. He was not tested for the gifted program this past year. He doesn't fit the mold of the ideal student, and struggled a bit this year with focusing and remaining on task.

My question is, where do I go from here? How can a child who achieved a National percentile of 99 in Math end up in the "Average" math group? I asked his school about moving him up to the "High-Average" math group and I was told I would have to sign a waiver! Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

A: This is really tough as I am not sure how the school regulations work. There has to be a good reason for them to place your son in the Average group, unless they have made a mistake. With a high score in Maths, it is a wonder how they do the placement unless everyone else scored just as high and they have taken into account the total score (though that doesn't make much sense).

The only way is for you to approach the school again, perhaps someone in a more authoritative position - the principal, or head teacher. You need to understand the reason your son is placed in the lower group when his scores warrants his placement in the high-average group at least. The school owes it to you to give a valid explanation. If you are unsatisfied, you may want to bring up this matter at the PTA meeting or the district.

I'm afraid this is all I can advise as I am not familiar with the placement policies in schools. Here's wishing you all the best and I hope your son gets a fair placement based on his scores.


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