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Frequently Asked Questions

General Testing

GMRT, Fourth Edition

General Testing

Q: What is a raw score?
A: A raw score is the number of questions a student answered correctly on a test.

Q: What is a chance-level score?
A: A chance-level score is a statistical prediction of the score a student might have received if he or she guessed randomly for every question. To determine the chance-level score, take the number of questions attempted and divide by the number of answer choices in each question.

Q: What is a percentile rank (PR) or national percentile rank (NPR)?
A: A PR is an indicator of where a student's performance fits within the performance of other students in the same grade. PRs are placed on a scale of 1 to 99 and indicate the percentage of students in the norming group whose raw scores were lower. They do not indicate the percentage of questions a student answered correctly. PRs are placed on a curve; most students earn PRs somewhere in the middle of the scale. Differences in PRs at one part of the scale may not represent the same difference in achievement as the same PR differences at another part of the scale. PRs are not suitable for computing averages.

Q: What is a normal curve equivalent (NCE)?
A: Like PRs, NCEs describe a student's level of achievement in relation to the scores of other students in the same grade and are placed on a scale of 1 to 99. NCEs, however, are PRs that have been statistically transformed into an equal-interval scale, or "taken out of the curve." Therefore, differences in NCEs do represent the same difference in achievement from one part of the scale to another. NCEs are suitable for computing averages.

Q: What is a stanine?
A: Like PRs and NCEs, stanines also describe a student's performance in relation to the performance of other students in the same grade. Stanines, however, are placed on a scale of 1 to 9 and, as a result, tend to discourage focusing on score differences that may not be meaningful. Like NCEs, stanines are on an equal-interval scale and are suitable for computing averages.

Q: What is a scale score (SS) or extended scale score (ESS)?
A: Scale scores are different for every test. An SS provides a continuous score scale (development scale) across different levels and forms of a test that permits direct comparison of different groups of examiness-regardless of the time of year tested and the level/form administered. Different tests may anchor their SS at different places and use larger or smaller scales to measure differences in achievement. However, SSs always measure achievement in equal units and can be averaged. The extened scale score (ESS) were developed so that progress in reading can be followed over a period of years, on a single, continuous scale.

Q: What is a grade equivalent (GE)?
A: GEs, like scale scores, rank a student's achievement within a group that includes students in all the grades. They indicate the grade level of the group whose median scale score would be the same as the student's scale score. GEs can range through any group of grades for which a test is suitable. They often include a decimal that roughly represents a month in the school year. Thus, a GE of 1.5 indicates the fifth month of grade 1.

GEs predict the grade level of an average student who could have received the same score as the group on a particular test. They do not work in the other direction; GEs do not predict the grade in which a student should be placed. Thus, a GE of 6.5 earned by a third grader does not indicate that the third grader can do sixth-grade work.

Q: Why should or why shouldn't should we use GEs when showing growth over time? What is the best indicator(s) for showing growth over time?
A: It is not recommended to use GEs to show growth over time. This is because, as described in question 1, the truncations at the top and bottom of the GE scale limit the amount of information available for students scoring in those areas. A score that continues through those truncations, such as an ESS, would be more useful.

For measuring score differences from testing to testing, it is best to use a score that measures equal intervals of reading achievement. NCEs and ESSs, both equal-interval scores, are recommended for measuring growth over time. Because NCEs show a student’s standing among his or her peers, a student who retains about the same NCE from testing to testing is achieving average growth in reading. ESSs, which are on a scale that extends throughout the grades, can be used to plot a student’s long-term progress and demonstrate growth graphically.

More information about how to study growth in GMRT scores can be found in the Manual for Scoring and Interpretation.

Q: What is a Lexile®(L) measure ?
A: A Lexile measure is a special kind of score that helps teachers, parents, and students find books suited to each student's reading skills. Lexile measures can be obtained through Riverside Scoring Service for students who have taken a GMRT Comprehension test from Levels 1 through 10/12. For more information about Lexiles, see

Lexile® is a registered trademark of Metametrix, Inc.

Q: What are quarter-month norms?
A: Quartermonth norms are norms that are adjusted, or interpolated, for the length of time school has been in session. Each month is divided into quarters (thus the name "quartermonth") and a different set of norms is provided for each quarter.

Quartermonth norms are particularly useful when testing takes place relatively far away from a test's norming dates. If, for example, the norms were designed for testing around October 15 but your school tested on September 1, students at your school will have received less instruction than students in the norming group. The test scores might underestimate the actual achievement of your students. Quartermonth norms correct these over- and underestimations.

Before using quartermonth norms, make sure that your school or testing program allows the use of interpolated norms.

GMRT Fourth Edition

Q: What are the differences between the third and fourth editions of the GMRT?
A: The names of the first two test levels have changed. Level PRE in the third edition has been renamed "Level PR (Pre-Reading)" in the fourth edition. Level R in the third edition has been renamed "Level BR (Beginning Reading)" in the fourth edition.

The subtests at the earlier levels have been revised to provide a continuum of comprehension testing throughout all the test levels of the GMRT. Level PR includes a new subtest, Listening (Story) Comprehension. Level BR also includes a new subtest, Basic Story Words, which replaces the Use of Sentence Context subtest in Level R of the Third Edition. Finally, the Comprehension tests in Levels 1 and 2 have been revised so that three or four consecutive test questions comprise a short story. The Comprehension tests in Levels 3 and higher maintain the same format as those in the third edition.

The Vocabulary tests in Levels 1 and 2 of the third edition were renamed "Word Decoding." In addition, a new "Word Knowledge" test was added to Level 2 and connected to the ESS scale of the Vocabulary tests for Levels 3 and higher.

The Level 5/6 test of the third edition was split into two levels for the fourth edition: Level 5 and Level 6. A new test level for adult reading (Level AR), with community college norms was also added to the series.

The fourth edition offers expanded out-of-level norms, as well as more up-to-date norms based on a standardization conducted during the 1998-1999 school year.

The Decoding Skills Analysis for Levels 1 and 2, available in the third edition only as a form for hand-scoring customers, is now available in the fourth edition as both a form for hand-scoring customers and a report for machine-scoring customers.

Quartermonth norms, available in the third edition only for machine-scoring customers, are now available in the fourth edition for both hand-scoring and machine-scoring customers.

Individual student Lexile reports are available for machine-scoring customers testing with Levels 1 through 10/12 of the fourth edition. Lexile reports are not available for the third edition.

Q: What are the differences between the paper-pencil and online version of the fourth edition?
A:Very little about forth edition has changed between the print and online versions of the test.

The items in the Vocabulary test were placed word-for-word into the GMRT Online student testing interface. In the online version, students view one Vocabulary item at a time rather than a whole page of items at once.

With a few exceptions, the reading passages and questions of the Comprehension test were also placed word-for-word into the online testing interface. These exceptions occur in Level 4 Form S and Level 7/9 Form S, and were necessary due to the legalities of using authentic, previously published passages. Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the forms remain equivalent between the print and online versions of the test despite these changes in content. In addition, the non-functional illustrations accompanying some of the printed Comprehension passages have been eliminated in the online testing interface.

Q: How can I compare scores between the norming years, so that I don't lose longitudinal data by upgrading to the latest norms?
A: The GMRT 1999 norms and 2006 norms cannot be compared directly; 1999 norms must first be converted into their 2006 equivalents. Contact your local Riverside Assessment Specialist or Riverside's Customer Service Department for a free copy of a booklet entitled GMRT 1999 and 2006 Score Comparisons. This booklet contains all the information you need to convert PRs from the 1999 norms into PRs, NCEs, and Stanines for the 2006 norms. The 2006 ESSs and GEs can then be obtained from the Manual for Scoring and Interpretation of the test level administered. Score conversions between these two norming years are not available from Riverside Scoring Service.

Q: How often can I test with GMRT?
A: GMRT was designed for testing once each fall and spring, beginning in the spring of Kindergarten. More frequent testing can be accommodated by alternating forms S and T throughout the school year or by testing out of level. Please contact your local Assessment Consultant or Customer Service for more information.

Q: What accommodations are allowed?
A: Students taking Levels 4 and higher who, for whatever reason, have difficulty maneuvering between test booklet and answer sheet may mark their answers directly in the test booklet. Students taking Levels 3 and lower are required to mark their answers directly in the test booklet.

The online testing interface allows extended testing times for students whose IEPs require such accommodations. However, the norms will not apply as directly to students tested with extended time. Test administrators may track the actual working time for students given this accommodation in order to facilitate their interpretation of the students' scores.

Q: Were special education students included in the standardization?
A: Special education students, Title 1 students, and others in special instructional classes were included in the standardization of GMRT if they attended "regular" education or "gifted" classes at least 50 percent of the time. Their scores were not separated out from those of their peers.

Q: Does GMRT measure a student's reading rate?
A: No.

Q: Is GMRT a "speeded" test?
A: No. At Levels PR and BR, students work at the pace set by the test administrator. Administrators are directed to choose a pace that allows students to attempt each question but is not so slow that students become distracted or lose interest. Students taking Level 1 and higher work at their own pace and within time restrictions, but the time limits at these levels were designed to allow most students enough time to attempt all the questions.

Q: Can students be tested with a level of GMRT above or below their actual grade level?
A: Yes, but only within certain limits. For more information about which GMRT check levels can be used in which grades, see your Education Assessment Catalog, contact your local Assessment Consultant, or call Customer Service.

Q: When should students be tested out of level?
A: Each level of the GMRT is suitable for most students and most classes in the grade (or grades) for which the test level was designed. Out-of-level testing with one test level higher is generally recommended when a student's raw scores are within four points of a perfect raw score. Out-of-level testing with one test level lower is generally recommended when a student's raw scores are less than six raw score points above a chance-level score.

Q: Which GMRT test level is the most difficult, and why?
A: Level 10/12 is the most difficult GMRT test level. Level AR (Adult Reading) is not more difficult than Level 10/12.

Level AR was designed to screen students entering community colleges and other adult training programs. After consulting with several community colleges, many of which were using Level 7/9 of the third edition as their screening test, it was determined to make Level AR wide-ranging in difficulty, with a median difficulty of grade 9.

Level 10/12, on the other hand, serves a student population whose reading competence should be within a grade 10/12 difficulty. Therefore, Level 10/12 covers a narrower range of abilities and is the most difficult of the GMRT levels.

Q: Which GMRT test level should I use to determine the reading ability of my GED students?
A: Level AR would be suitable for most GED classes. Level AR has a median difficulty of grade 9, was designed for more mature audiences, and uses norms obtained from students entering community college.

Students who have a particularly difficult time with Level AR might be tested out of level using Level 7/9 or Level 6. Level 10/12 should not be used for students who have difficulty with Level AR because Level 10/12 is harder than Level AR.

When GED students are tested with a level other than Level AR, the norms will not apply directly to the students. This is because the norms for other levels are taken from students in particular grades, not from adults with more maturity and life experience. If your institution is likely to test GED students using a level other than Level AR, it is recommended that you establish benchmarks for your institution using GEs and/or ESSs. Directions for doing this can be found in the Manual for Scoring and Interpretation for Level AR.

Q: Which GMRT test level should I use to determine the reading ability of college graduates?
A: Level AR would be suitable for most college graduates. It was designed for more mature audiences and uses norms obtained from adults rather than from high school students. However, because Level 10/12 is more difficult than Level AR, test subjects who achieve nearly perfect scores on Level AR might be tested with Level 10/12.

Because none of the GMRT levels use norms obtained from college graduates, neither Level AR nor Level 10/12 have norms that apply directly to your test subjects. The best way to use the norms for a population of college graduates would be to establish benchmarks for your particular institution. Directions for doing this can be found in the Manual for Scoring and Interpretation for Level AR.

Q: Why are stanines the only derived score available for the subtests of Levels PR and BR?
A: The subtests of Levels PR and BR are relatively short and thus do not offer the richness of data required to create reliable PRs, NCEs, ESSs, or GEs. Because of the relatively broad units of stanines, they are the only derived score suitable for interpreting subtest results from Levels PR and BR. However, the full complement of derived scores is available for Total scores in Levels PR and BR.

Q: Why are there no decimals at the top and bottom of GMRT's GE scale?
A: To establish decimals in a GE scale representing the months in a typical school year, there must be a standardization group in both the grade above and the grade below. Kindergarten had no standardization group below it. Similarly, the community college group had no standardization group above it. Therefore, the GEs associated with Kindergarten and community college do not contain decimals like found in the other GMRT. GEs

Q: Why are some GEs listed with a "+" at the end?
A: As students approach a perfect score on a test, their GEs tend to grow exponentially from one raw score point to the next. To discourage overinterpretation of GEs achieved by high-scoring students, the GE scale was capped at the lower grades.

Q: I understand scale scores mean different things for different tests. What do they mean for the GMRT?
A: Extended scale scores (ESSs) place the entire range of achievement during the school years onto one continuous scale. For GMRT, the ESS scale ranges from 74 to 714 and is anchored at 500 at a PR of 50 in the fall of grade 5. The ESS scale measures achievement in equal units, so ESS differences at one part of the scale represent the same differences in achievement that they would at a different part of the scale. ESSs can be averaged.

Q: How do I calculate class/group average scores?
A: First, define the group of students and scores to be averaged. Averaging cannot take place across different editions of GMRT. Averaging can, however, take place across different test levels and forms. Only scores with the same name can be averaged together. For example, Total scores from any level can be averaged together, as can Word Decoding scores from Levels 1 and 2. Vocabulary scores from Level 3, however, cannot be averaged with Word Decoding scores from Level 2.

Once the group is defined, average the students' ESSs, and use the class average ESS to look up the class average GE, PR, NCE, and stanine for the appropriate grade, time of year, and portion of the test.

Q: Why are GMRT scores different between norming years?
A: Over time, curricular emphases and competing activities, among other factors, can impact the nationwide average of students' reading abilities; the average student of a decade ago may be a better or worse reader than the average student of today. Thus, two different students who achieved the same raw score on the same test one in 1999 and the other in 2006, might well have very different standings among their peers. Because standardized test scores generally describe a student's standing among other students in the nation, the scores tend to change over time. The score differences between the 1999 and 2006 norms reflect these kinds of changes.

Q: Are correlations available for the fourth edition of GMRT and other tests?
A: No.

GMRT Equating Materials

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