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Understanding Achievement and Ability Tests

The Riverside School District utilizes both achievement (SBAs and MAP) and ability testing results in determining eligibility for the S.O.A.R. Program.

Deciphering the Difference Between the Two

Achievement and ability tests both measure aptitude, learning and achievement to some degree. Achievement tests, such as the SBAs, are heavily dependent on formal learning acquired in school or at home. They do not measure, however, how a student thinks or what his or her potential is. If a student does well on an achievement test, it shows that he or she is learning what he or she is supposed to be learning in school.

Ability tests are more novel and complex. They are predictors of potential for academic success. Ability tests tap into a wider range of life experiences and look at whether students can apply what they know in new and different ways. Ability tests often work with designs and pictures. They usually challenge the test taker to mentally manipulate symbols, numbers and the written language. Ability testing examines innate learning rather than school-based learning.

Reasons Achievement and Ability Scores May Not Correspond

  • Child is highly motivated to succeed in school

  • Child is allowed as much time as needed on state and district achievement tests, but ability tests are timed

  • Child is unfamiliar with the kinds of questions being asked on ability tests

  • Child is a perfectionist

  • Child has enriched home and family environment

  • Child is underachieving in school but demonstrates high ability

Ability Test Administered for Highly Capable Eligibility

Test Name



Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

Verbal reasoning section: 
T1 Verbal Classification 
T2 Sentence Completion
T3 Verbal Analogies 

Quantitative reasoning section:
T1 Quantitative Relations
T2 Number Series
T3 Equation Building

Non-verbal reasoning section:

T1 Figure Classification

T2 Figure Analogies

T3 Figure Analysis

The three subtests in each section are combined to get one percentile score for the Verbal section, one for the Quantitative section, and one for the Non-verbal section. All nine subtests can also be combined to get a test composite score.

Understanding Your Child's Percentile Score(s) 
National percentile ranks, which range from 1 to 99, are commonly used for reporting test results. A percentile ranks an individual's position in relation to a hypothetical group of 100 students in the standardization group. If a child scores at the 75th percentile, he or she is scoring better than 75 out of every 100 students at the same grade level that take the same test.

Percentile Score

Performance Level

Percentage of Students Across the US


Highest Level



High Level



Well above average



Slightly above average






Slightly below average



Well below average



Low level



Lowest level


ADA Compliance Errors0

Riverside School District



(509) 464-8206
The Riverside School District No. 416 does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts of America and all other designated youth groups listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. District programs will be free from sexual harassment. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: Title IX Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator: Sammy Jo Griggs, Director of Special Programs, (509) 464-8204, Section 504/ADA Coordinators: Caroline Raymond, (509)-464-8366 (P-5th) & Beth Heglin (509)-464-8526 (6th-12th & ISP) at 34515 N. Newport Hwy., Chattaroy, WA 99003. PER RCW 9.41.270 RIVERSIDE SCHOOL DISTRICT IS A "GUN-FREE ZONE."
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