What Is a Scale Score?

A scale score (also called a scaled score) is a component of more advanced tests (e.g., state assessments) rather than local assessments. It involves a committee-based scaling process unique to each administration period's performance and it utilizes tens of thousands of students' scores when its custom mathematical formula is devised.

When a student takes a CAPA, CMA, CST, or STS (all STAR tests), he or she receives a raw score for the test as a whole. The raw score for the overall test is transformed into a scale score (or scaled score) through an equating process that allows a test (same subject, same grade level, etc.) to represent the same level of difficulty from one year to the next. Scale scores then translate into proficiency levels (Far Below Basic, Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced), which also represent the same level of difficulty for the same test from one year to the next. Scale scores and proficiency levels are only available for the test as a whole, and not for content clusters.

Next Steps

See the "Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR)" lessons for appropriate data analysis details.

Visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp for more information on STAR tests, blueprints (featuring how questions and standards relate to strands), and released test questions (featuring how standards relate to clusters). Reference Chapter 1 of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Post-Test Guide available at http://www.startest.org/archive.html and California Technical Reports available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/technicalrpts.asp for more information on analyzing results.

Abbreviations and Terms

CAPA - California Alternate Performance Assessment (alternative to CST for students with severe cognitive disabilities; must easier than CST)

CMA - California Modified Assessment (alternative to CST for qualifying Special Education students; much harder than CAPA but easier than CST)

CST - California Standards Test (for all students who do not qualify for the CAPA or CMA)

STAR - Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR Program includes CAPA, CMA, CST, and STS and orchestrates EAP testing)

STS - Standards-based Tests in Spanish (required for Spanish-speaking English Learners receiving instruction in Spanish or in U.S. < 1 year)