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Explaining Sten Scores to Parents

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The NCCA have provided some excellent information sheets for parents to understand the new end of year school reports that have gone out to parents this week. One of the new requirements is that schools are obliged to report the standardised test results that their children have received to parents on the report. This can be provided as a percentile or something called a STEN. STEN simple means “Score out of ten.”

A parent looking at a STEN score may be worried if a score of 5 was given to their child who seemed to be doing nicely in class all year. Some parents who see a score of 3 or less think their child has failed the year. However, a STEN is simply a marker to compare the child to the rest of the population who sat the standardised tests. If a child gets a STEN score of 5, it means they are performing in the average range. In other words, if the child was standing in a line with all the other children who took the test in order of how well they did, the child would be standing somewhere in the middle.

In fact, 68% of children should fall into the STEN score of between 4 and 7 – that is the average range. The graph below adapted from the PDST shows the percentage of children who fall into the various ranges.

Very few children get a score of 9 or 10, (approximately 2%), but those who do are children that a parent might look into seeing if their child has exceptional needs. Around 2% of children get a STEN score of 1. Children in this range will generally qualify for Learning Support. Often children with STEN scores of 2 and sometimes 3 will also be considered for Learning Support.

For further information about standardised scores, check out the NCCA’s great guide at the following location.

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