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The Possibility of Lower Scores Based on Birth Quarter

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Our daughter who has a September birthday began the Terra Nova test 11 days after her 8th birthday. Would the CSI score (because it is normed by age rather than grade) be affected by this testing date? Specifically, if the testing had been before her birthday would this number change? It would appear that she was being compared to a larger population of third graders than her own second grade classmates because so few second graders would have turned eight when the test was given. (The cut-off date is Sept. 1).

Her CSI was 119; her total nonverbal score was 93 and total verbal score was 94. 

A: Logically speaking, your daughter's scores could possibly be lower than her peers born earlier. Research has indicated that test score variation by quarter occurs after children begin school, which is the case for your daughter, which is not true for very young children. For very young children, there is no evidence that birth quarter affects test scores.

However, if children born in different quarters begin school with the same average test scores, and logically children who enroll early learn more than children who enroll later; due to this difference, test scores should be greater for children born in the later quarters compared to the ones born in the 1st quarter. This has been the trend seen in research studies.

Therefore, this evidence suggests that early enrollment increases test scores due to different amounts of schooling or to differences in when children were first exposed to schooling. Having said that, the difference is rather marginal and usually considered insignificant.

If she is losing opportunities for special programs because she did not meet the cut-off points but is rather close, you may consider speaking to the school authorities as this can be considered a special case.


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