How to Choose an Achievement Test image

How to Choose an Achievement Test

26 Feb 2014

Many parents have questions about which achievement test would best fit their students. There have been several factors to take into consideration, but today, there is a new one: Do you want the test to be aligned to the Common Core? If you do not want a test aligned to the Common Core, then choose a test that was designed and normed before 2009.

Below I have listed the tests according to the reasons people choose each test. (This list is not exhaustive but has the most common tests used in NC.) All of the tests mentioned meet NC yearly testing requirements as a nationally standardized achievement test.

Tests not aligned to the Common Core:
BASI (Gr 3-12)—paper and computer versions
Iowa Tests (Gr K-12)—Form A (not the newer Form C), paper
PASS Tests (Gr 3-8)—paper, standardized but not nationally normed
Stanford-10 Tests (Gr K-12)—paper
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)—computer, can be done in home or testing center
TerraNova2 Tests Complete Plus (Gr K-12) or Survey Plus (Gr 2-12)—paper, substitute for California Achievement Tests (CAT)
Woodcock-Johnson, III (preschool-adult)—paper and oral

Tests aligned to the Common Core:
ACT—only through
Iowa-Form C—only through BJU
Brigance-2010 (for children developmentally seven years or younger)

These lists are arranged according to other considerations.

Untimed tests:
PASS Tests (Gr 3-8)—paper
Stanford-10 (Gr K-12)—paper
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)—computer
Woodcock-Johnson, III (all grades)—mostly untimed, paper and oral

Tests for testing in a group or with multiple grades together:
Iowa (Gr 3-8, 9-12)—paper
Stanford-10 (Gr 3-4, Gr 5-8, Gr 9-12)—paper
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)—computer
TerraNova2 Complete Plus (Gr 4-5, Gr 6-8, Gr 9-12)—paper
TerraNova2 Survey Plus (Gr 6-8, Gr 9-12)—paper

Tests that give quick results:
BASI Online (Gr 3-12)—immediate results
Iowa (Gr K-12)—hand scored, results usually in one week
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)—immediate computerized results, in home or testing center
TerraNova2 Complete Plus or Survey Plus (Gr K-12)—hand scored, results usually in one week

Tests you can give at home that do not require a BA degree:
Brigance (for developmentally seven years or younger)
PASS Tests (Gr 3-8)—paper
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3spring-12)—computer with immediate results, Note: You do not have to have a BA degree or training for the Stanford-10 Online because the testing center is proctoring the online test.
TerraNova2 Complete Plus or Survey Plus (Gr K-12)—paper

Shortest achievement tests
A survey version of any test if available
Woodcock-Johnson, III (all ages and grades)—approximately 75 minutes, done by a trained WJ provider
TerraNova2 Complete Plus (Gr K)—95 minutes
Iowa (Gr 1 Level 6)—163 minutes
TerraNova2 Survey Plus (Gr 2-8)—215 to 235 minutes
Stanford-10 (Gr 9-12)—230 minutes, can be administered untimed
BASI (Gr 3-12)—2 hours

Least expensive tests:
Stanford-10 (Gr K-12)
CAT tests (Gr K-12)—old norms

Test that produce achievement scores for National Honor Society:
Iowa (Gr K-12)
Stanford-10 (Gr K-12)
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)

Test most often used in NC public schools:
Iowa (Gr K-12)

Test most often used in NC private schools:
Stanford-10 (Gr K-12)

Paper tests that can be given at home:
BASI (Gr 3-12)
Iowa (Gr K-12)
PASS (Gr 3-8)
Stanford-10 (Gr K-12)
TerraNova2 Complete Plus (Gr K-12) or Survey Plus (Gr 2-12)

Computerized test that can be given at home with immediate report:
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)

One-on-one test:
Woodcock-Johnson, III (all ages and grades)

  • partly oral, listening and writing 
  • not fill-in-the-bubble
  • allows the child to test as low as they need to but also as high as they can
  • mostly untimed
  • immediate report
  • comes with a consultation;
  • gives a little purer grade equivalency

Tests for a special needs child:
Brigance (children developmentally 7 years or younger)
Iowa, Stanford or TerraNova—paper version of the lowest level available

Tests year-normed, newest unaligned to the Common Core:
(The versions of tests carried by test companies varies.)
BASI, (Gr 3-12)--paper and online, in a testing center, 2003
Iowa Tests for Gr K-12 Form A—paper, 2005
Stanford-10 Tests (Gr K-12)—paper, 2007
Stanford-10 Online (Gr 3 spring-12)—in home or a testing center, 2007
TerraNova2 Complete Plus (Gr K-12) or Survey Plus Tests (Gr 2-12)—paper, 2005
Woodcock-Johnson, III (preschool-adult)—paper, 2007

Requirements to administer the tests:
BASI—none, online in a testing center
Brigance—none when used as a life skills checklist
Iowa Tests—BA degree
Stanford-10 Tests, paper version—BA degree and some training (A free eight minute training video is on the TEA website under “Testing Resources.”)
Stanford-10 Online Tests—none
TerraNova2 Complete Plus or Survey Plus Tests—none
Woodcock-Johnson, III—specially trained tester

GREENHOUSE is NCHE's flagship publication. 

GREENHOUSE magazine is published fall and spring plus an annual graduate issue in May. GREENHOUSE is mailed to NCHE members.



Carinda Kerr's picture

FYI, they do not sell Stanford 10 Online to homeschool families. They only sell to accredited schools. I just got off the phone with them.

Debbie Thompson's picture

Hi Carinda,
The Stanford10 Online is sold by a contracted distributor. Essentially you are "renting" the test like you rent the Stanford paper test. Just like you don't purchase (rent) the Stanford10 paper test directly from the publisher but get it from a distributor, homeschools can get the Stanford10 Online test from a distributor. The test doesn't stay on your computer. Each section of the test has to be approved by the test company, and when one section is completed, it disappears from your computer. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions. 877-843-8837

Sally's picture

This is a great resource of helpful information on testing! I wish you had "share" buttons at the bottom of your post. I'd like to share this article with my homeschool group. Thanks!

JoleneKreiling's picture


Feel free to share the link for this article with your homeschool group.  We want parents to be informed so they can make the best choice possible regarding testing for their children.



Michelle's picture

I'm new to testing. What does it mean to have the test be aligned to the Common Core?
Thank You

Debbie Thompson's picture

Common Core is an education initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. Though most states have adopted Common Core for their government schools, many people do not want government to tell us how to homeschool and what standards we should have or what curriculum we should use to match Common Core. You can google "Common Core" for more information.

Wendy's picture

Aligning your curriculum and testing to the Common Core can be helpful if you anticipate your child may be attending public school in the future. This will enable your homeschooled student to be on par with their public school peers.

Karen's picture

If it is a requirement for homeschoolers to keep on file tests administered annually, & I chose the least expensive test Stanford 10 online, but they remove it from my computer just as soon as the test is completed, then what do I keep in my files for state inspection?

debbie_mason's picture

Hi Karen,
You will get the test results sent to you. The test results are what you keep on file. People do not keep an actual test on file - just the results. Please call me toll-free if you have more questions 877-843-8837. Debbie Thompson

maranda's picture

Our oldest will be 7 in August. Will he need to test then or just sometime this year? How do I know what grade to test him for? He is at different levels in different subjects? Thank you!!