The Terra Nova, formerly known as the California Achievement Test, is a standardized test developed by CTB/McGraw Hill Publishing Company. The test is designed to assess student achievement in the areas of reading/language Arts, mathematics, social studies and science. The test measures the results of students relative to a nationwide normative group. Although the test results can be confusing, understanding them can be easy if you follow these simple steps.

Step 1

Read the test results. Each student receives a Terra Nova report form with the test results. Look at the report and note any codes or abbreviations that you do not understand.

Step 2

Decipher abbreviations and codes. A student's test results are usually accompanied by an explanation of the codes used in the results; read these explanations to understand the meanings of the codes. For example, NP means national percentile, NCE signifies normal curve equivalent, NS is the abbreviation for national stanine and SS stands for scale score.

Step 3

Consult online resources to aid in understanding the test results. CTB/McGraw Hill maintains a space for educators and parents to analyze test results in their school districts and make comparisons with other nationwide results. Other forums, such as Brainy Child, discuss the Terra Nova Test results.

Step 4

Discuss the results with your child's teacher. To understand the individual score of your own child, speak with her teacher so that the score can be assessed in light of any learning difficulties that your child has. Teachers can also give a view of how a class fared as a whole, which will be helpful in putting your child's score in perspective with regard to his peers.

Step 5

Read information provided by the school district regarding the overall results for the students in the district. Check the school district website for explanations regarding test scores and what the scores signify for individual student proficiency in each subject area. Read local newspaper reports about school district performance on the Terra Nova and comparisons with performance by schools in other parts of the state.