How stanines work

Stanines are used to compare an individual student’s achievement with the results obtained by a national reference sample chosen to represent a certain year level. Stanines divide the distribution of results from the trials for a year group, into nine categories (see below). Most students, when compared with their own year level, achieve around stanines four, five, and six. Stanines seven, eight, and nine represent comparatively high achievement for a year group, while stanines one, two, and three indicate comparatively low achievement.

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. Stanines are problematic to use in the middle of the year, plus an adjustment to the following Reference Year must be made in Term 4 as these stanines are closer to the Term 4 position, therefore they represent a more accurate stanine against student scale score position.

Reference years 

Term 1

  • Use the reference year the student is in to convert the scale score to a stanine.

Term 2 & 3

  • Use the stanines for the reference year the student is in, but be aware they are Term 1 stanines, therefore students are 1 or 2 terms behind average progress benchmarks. The stanines will show as being inflated.

Term 4

  • Use the stanine from the following reference year – i.e. if a student is in Yr 7 Term 4, use Yr 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 as this is not a direct comparison.

NB: Student scale scores can be compared to average scale score positions at any time of the year. The attached video provides an illustrated comparison of scale scores, reference years, and stanines.