Terra Nova

What is the Terra Nova Test?

The Terra Nova standardized test is a bank of test items developed by CTB McGraw Hill which assesses the student’s ability to apply knowledge and think critically.

What Are the Purposes of This Testing Program?

The purposes of this testing program are the following:

  • Convey high academic expectations to students
  • Convey educational priorities
  • Motivate students
  • Evaluate instructional programs and goals
  • Give direction to planning
  • Identify areas for future goal planning
  • Evaluate student progress
  • Provide diagnostic information for instructional purposes
  • Provide information for grouping and placement decisions
  • Provide one form of accountability to the School Board and the community

What Subjects Are Covered on the Test?

The test includes reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The total time for all components of the comprehensive test battery is approximatley five hours. The tests are broken into segments for students to take over five days during the first week of March.

Why Was the Terra Nova Test Selected for Our Students?

Terra Nova was selected as the mandated Archdiocesan testing and assessment program because of its focus on national education standards. The test allows teachers to evaluate each student’s knowledge and application skills in the core academic subject areas of reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies. This is the sixth consecutive year the Archdiocese of Chicago has used the test.

Which Students Are Required to Take the Terra Nova Test?

The Office of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Chicago (OCE) mandates Terra Nova testing in grades 3, 5, and 7 each March. Saint Thomas of Villanova follows that guideline. Some schools test all grades.

Other Than Archdiocesan Schools, Who Else Uses the Terra Nova Test?

The Terra Nova test is used by hundreds of school systems (public and private) and districts throughout the United States, including educational systems in 21 states such as Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa and Virginia. The U.S. Department of Defense Schools and 40 school districts in Illinois also use the Terra Nova test.

How is Terra Nova Connected to the St. Thomas Curriculum?

The Terra Nova test has been used in the past to prepare the written curriculum for each grade. Scores are used to chart the abilities of the children and to allow for flexible groupings in tracking grades 4, 6, and 8. They also help determine tracking strategies when weaknesses and strengths are noted.

What Does a Standardized Terra Nova Test Score Say About a Student’s Achievement?

The test is a good measure to compare against the child’s class work and report card grades. It is one more way of determining a child’s abilities and educational needs. It, however, is not the only determinate of the child’s placement and/or future educational requirements.

How Does St. Thomas Compare Locally?

Due to the differences in testing between St. Thomas School and other local schools, it is difficult to make direct comparisons. As stated earlier, St. Thomas, along with all Catholic Schools in the Chicago Archdiocese, utilize the Terra Nova testing program, a leader in academic performance testing. Terra Nova allows us to evaluate each student’s mastery of skills and knowledge. We are also able to compare these results on a national basis. Public schools in Illinois utilize the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), which evaluates each student’s performance based on the State of Illinois Learning Standards. The ISAT is not administered nationally and does not provide a national comparison.

What Do the Scores Mean?

The Terra Nova Testing program provides each school with an assessment of the overall performance of the school. Each subject area is broken down into categories that align with both national and state learning standards. The summary data for St. Thomas of Villanova School is presented in the chart below. The national median is defined as the performance level at which 50% of the students tested across the nation are above and 50% of the students are below. A percentile rating of 82 indicates that St. Thomas Students on average did better than 82% of the students tested across the nation. A comparison between St. Thomas and the archdiocese of Chicago Schools is also included in the table. In summary, St. Thomas of Villanova School continues to maintain very high academic performance in all subject areas tested.