Understanding the Reference Year


The PAT/STAR norms were calculated from trials administered nationwide in Term 1. This means all stanines are Term 1 stanines only. They are useful to compare your students’ Term 1 position in relation to a nationwide sample. If the student is in Year 7, the Year 7 reference year is correct. However, the stanines are problematic to use in the middle of the year, plus an adjustment to the Reference Year must be made in Term 4. The Term 4 adjustment because if you use the student’s Reference Year to convert their raw score to a stanine, they will look like an amazing Term 1 student because their raw score is so high.

Remember students’ scale scores can be used at any time of the year.

Reference Years 

Term 1

· Use the Reference Year the student is in to convert the raw score to a stanine

Term 2 & 3

· Use the stanines for the Reference Year the student is in, but be aware they have done more learning than if they were in Term 1 so the stanines will look inflated

Term 4

· Use the stanine from the following Reference Year – i.e. if a student is in Yr 7 Term 4 use Year 8 stanines. The Term 1 stanine of the following year is much closer to Term 4 achievement. Be aware their stanines may look as if they’ve dropped because they still have 3 months of living and learning to experience to be a direct comparison



If testing outside of Term, the scale score can be used  to measure progress as outlined below:

Here are some statistics for a small group from Year 4:

Average scale score progress for Year 4 in Maths is 8.3 scale scores.


                  Term 1           Term 4                        Gain

Murphy        35.2                 43.2                             8


Savanna     38.2                  55.7                            17


Mitchell       38.2                  52.3                            14


Grace         49.5                  55.7                              6.7


Rio             45.1                   67.7                            22.7


You can see that these children have made significant gains over the year compared to the average scale score progress for the year group yet if you looked at their stanines, some of them would have dropped because of where they are expected to be by Term 1.