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Discrepancy in Achievement and IQ scores on the Terra Nova

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My son is 9 years old and has taken the Terra Nova, he scored in the 99 percentile across the board except for a 35 in word analysis. His IQ portion came back with a 110 total score with the verbal scores all being in the high 90's percentiles .... but his math side being very average 80's.... my question is, why the discrepancy in the achievement vs IQ and would you interpret high scores on the non math portion of the abilities test evidence of high functioning in just one area? Should this be nurtured?

A: The Terra Nova is a standardised achievement test used to provide consistent, accurate, and objective information about students' achievement in various areas of the curriculum. In the administration of the test, individual or group scores may be compared with a criterion or with the scores of other students in the class, school, district, or national norm group. Test results can also be compared over time intervals, which is one indication of growth for an individual or group of students. The Terra Nova tests compare students with others in their grades around the nation. These tests determine strengths and weaknesses of a student and thus enable the school to provide academic intervention.

Please note that although the Terra Nova tests includes a component that acts like an IQ test. but are not IQ tests. This component measures the students' ability to use information and apply it to new and different situations (basically they measure achievement in answering questions correctly). It also gauges how a student analyses and employs higher-level thinking skills. On the other hand, most IQ tests measure aptitude in critical thinking and other skills. Therefore, the IQ score does not necessarily reflect your child's IQ.

The discrepancy that you mentioned is not very large and perhaps only indicates strengths in certain areas more than others rather than a weakness. High scores surely indicate areas of strength that can be nurtured further whereas low scores indicate a problem with the child's understanding in a certain area. Bear in mind that both high and average/lower scores are indication of the child's abilities and should be given attention accordingly.

Do also compare your son's Terra Nova test scores to his overall school performance. If you feel that there are discrepancies in the scores, his teachers may be the best people to explain this in relation to his school grades. Wishing you all the best!.


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