Annual Academic Testing

During the Spring semester of each year, Shelton’s Testing Department conducts annual academic testing throughout Shelton's Lower School. Test scores are used:

  • to measure the student’s current academic skills
  • for proper classroom placement
  • to individualize / adjust the student’s curriculum plan

Lower School students are tested in perceptual, visual-motor, pre-reading, reading, spelling, math, and letter- and number-writing skills. After all tests are administered and scored, an Annual Testing Report, showing current and previous test scores, is mailed to the student’s parents. In mid-May, a parent meeting is held, where tests and test scores are explained and questions are answered. An example of a Lower School Annual Testing Report is shown below.

Perceptual skills are measured by the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (TOPEL) [given only to Shelton students age three or lower] or the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) [for students age 4 and above]. On the TOPEL, scores from three emergent literacy skills are combined to form an Early Literacy Index score. On the CTOPP, two factors (Phonological Awareness and Rapid Naming) related to the awareness of, and subsequent efficient retrieval of, sound structures of the English language are measured. Visual-Motor skills are measured by the Beery Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery VMI), a copying task indicating the degree to which visual perception and fine-motor skills are integrated. Scores on these tests are listed on the Annual Testing Report as percentiles. The score range is 1 to 99; higher percentiles are better scores.

The Gates Oral Subtests are used to measure Pre-Reading skills. Students are asked to name the 26 capital letters and the 26 lower-case letters (in non-alphabetic order), followed by the 26 letter sounds. Finally, they are asked to blend orally presented syllables into words. These skills are known to be necessary prior to the student reading and spelling effectively. Writing skills are measured by the student’s ability to accurately write (in order) all 26 letters in cursive and all numbers from 1 to 100. Scores on these tests are listed as raw scores, or simply the number of correct responses given.

Reading skills are measured by the Gray Oral Reading Test – 5th Ed. The student reads a series of short paragraphs out loud. At the end of each paragraph the examiner asks five comprehension questions. The student continues to read and answer questions until a sufficient number of decoding errors are made. Three reading scores are given: Reading Rate, Reading Accuracy, and Reading Comprehension. Spelling skills are measured by the Test of Written Spelling – 5th Ed. Given in the classroom, the examiner reads a list of increasingly difficult words and the students write each word on their paper. Math skills are measured by the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement – 4th Ed., Calculations. A test of written math computations, it covers a large gamut of mathematics from simple addition and subtraction, to fractions and decimals and beyond. All reading, spelling and math scores on the Annual Testing Report are grade equivalent scores. They refer to the year and month in school of students who performed similarly on each test. A grade equivalent score of 3.4, for example, indicates performance at the fourth month of third grade.


Five FAQ’s about Annual Academic Testing

1. My student is Pattern 2, 3, 6 [for example]? What does that mean? Shelton School classifies learning disabilities into nine separate categories—we call them patterns (see below). By knowing each student’s unique pattern (most students have multiple patterns), Shelton teachers can quickly identify the student’s learning needs and plan instruction accordingly. Patterns can and will change; each summer patterns are audited by the testing department and changes are made as necessary. A student’s pattern should not be confused with his/her diagnosis; “diagnosis” is a broadly recognized term with legitimate professional status; “pattern” is a term used only at Shelton.

  • Pattern 1 = Reading Weakness
  • Pattern 2 = Comprehension Weakness
  • Pattern 3 = Attention Weakness
  • Pattern 4 = Math Weakness
  • Pattern 5 = Motor Weakness
  • Pattern 6 = Oral Language Disorder
  • Pattern 7 = Visual/Spatial Weakness
  • Pattern 8 = Mood/Anxiety
  • Pattern 9 = At Risk for Learning Disorder


2. My student is beginning to read at home and the teacher told me that he/she is starting to read in the classroom, but his/her scores on the GORT-5 are zero. Why? Although your student is reading some basic words at home and in the classroom, he/she did not score enough points on the GORT-5 to earn a grade equivalent score. In other words, the easiest passages on the GORT-5 are not sufficiently sensitive to accurately measure the reading skills of a beginning reader.

3. The perceptual test scores on the Annual Testing Report are percentile scores. How can I tell if my student made progress? Percentile scores range from 1 to 99; higher percentiles are better scores. A constant percentile score across time (i.e., from last year to this year) reflects an average gain; larger percentile scores across time indicate a larger than average gain; smaller percentile scores across time indicate a smaller than average gain. Percentiles located near a scale’s mid-range (50th percentile) are packed together tightly; an increase or decrease in a mid-range percentile is less meaningful than an increase or decrease in an extremely low or extremely high percentile

4. What’s the academic plan going forward? How will these latest annual testing scores affect the class placement, remedial strategy, and overall curriculum plan for my student? Academic planning decisions going forward are made by administrators, department chairpersons, and teachers within your student’s division. You should consult with them.


5. I have a question about my student’s learning disability and test scores. Who should I talk to?