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.



Debbie's picture

Once a child turns 7 years old you have a year to test him. You would choose the test level that best fits the child. Take an average of the current curriculum he is doing and choose that test level. If the child is not reading well, choose a level of test that matches the reading level. Feel free to call me if you still need help figuring this out. 919-387-7004

Debbie's picture

Once a child turns 7 years old you have a year to test. The state likes for a child to be tested each year that they homeschool once they turn 7 years old. Choose the level of test that best matches the average of all of the curriculum that the child has done, but if the student is not reading well, then you might want to choose the level of test that matches their lower reading level. Most of the Gr K - 2 tests are read to the student, however. The Woodcock-Johnson test is a great test to give when a student of any age has differing achievement levels in various subjects or isn't reading as well as they are doing in other subjects. Please feel free to call me if you need further help. Debbie Thompson 919-387-7004

Debbie's picture

I am having so much trouble finding out what types of questions/subject matter will be asked in the science, social studies, and history sections of the Terra Nova2 for a second grader. Is there no resource that gives some guidelines? I was able to find some common core info on math and language, but not for the Terra Nova.

Debbie Thompson's picture

Nationally standardized tests all have an "average" of scopes and sequences from most nationally used curriculum. You could Google "scope and sequence grade 2" and see what many states or curriculum publishers have as part of their study for second graders. "What Every 2nd Grader Should Know" - by Hirsch is a book which could help you, too.

I hope this helps! Debbie Thompson

Lance Abbot's picture

I do not see the California Achievement Test listed under online tests with immediate results, but it is available online with immediate results from Academic Excellence ( Hope this helps!

James & Jessica Fox's picture

This article was amazingly helpful, THANK YOU!

nikki morilla's picture

I'm having trouble trying to purchase a test for my son. He has done common core the whole year and I cant seem to find a company to sell me or rent me an exam HELP

debbie_mason's picture

Have you looked at this list?