FREE TREATMENT REPORT

See ratings and reviews when you sign up for an account.

California Achievement Tests

Definition

The California Achievement Tests (CAT) are among the most widely used tests of basic academic skills for children from kindergarten through grade 12. The most recent edition of the CAT (the sixth) is also called TerraNova, Second Edition (or alternately, Terra-Nova CAT ).

Purpose

The CAT is often administered to determine a child's readiness for promotion to a more advanced grade level and may also be used by schools to satisfy state or local testing requirements.

Description

First introduced in 1950, the CAT is a paper-and-pencil test for children from kindergarten through grade 12 that is designed to measure academic competency in a variety of areas. The test is available in six different forms: CAT Complete Battery, CAT Basic Battery, CAT Survey (grades two through 12 only), and CAT Plus.

The CAT is a standardized test, meaning that norms were established during the design phase of the test by administering the test to a large, representative sample of the test population (in the case of the CAT, over 300,000 students). The test is given in a group, classroom setting, and can take anywhere from one-and-a-half to over five hours to complete depending on the test form and grade level. A teacher typically administers the CAT. When testing is complete, the test is sent back to the company that publishes the CAT (CTB/McGraw Hill) for scoring, and then scoring information is returned to the school in the form of individual test reports.

The test report includes a scale score, which is the basic measurement of how a child performs on the assessment , and a national percentile (NP), which reflects the percentage of students in the national norm group who have scores below the student's score (e.g., an NP of 80 means that 80 percent of students scored lower than the student). The scale score may be derived one of two ways—a straight score determined by the total number of test items correct or through item-pattern scoring (also called item response theory, or IRT). Item-pattern scoring examines not only the number of correct responses, but also the difficulty level of the questions answered right and the interrelationship of the pattern of answers. Other scoring information may also be included in the test report depending on the scoring report format.

For students who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of taking a standardized test, a practice test session given by a teacher shortly before the CAT testing session begins may be appropriate. Because the CAT is designed to be a measurement of a child's current educational achievement level, the test publisher recommends that no pre-test coaching or test study programs be used.

Parental concerns

KEY TERMS

Norms —A fixed or ideal standard; a normative or mean score for a particular age group.

Representative sample —A random sample of people that adequately represents the test-taking population in age, gender, race, and socioeconomic standing.

Standardization —The process of determining established norms and procedures for a test to act as a standard reference point for future test results.

Resources

CTB/McGraw Hill. Terranova, 2nd ed. (California Achievement Tests, 6th ed.) Available online at http://www.ctb.com/mktg/terranova/tn_intro.jsp.

Harris, Joseph. What Every Parent Needs to Know About Standardized Tests. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

advertisement
V2012.311.925.327
Disclaimer: The list and ratings above are for informational purposes only, and is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. The goal of the information is to provide you with a comprehensive view of all available treatments, but should not be construed to indicate that use of any one treatment is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Decisions about use of a new treatment, or about a change in your current treatment plan, should be in consultation with your doctor or other healthcare professional.