May I administer the CAT5® and TerraNova2® to my own children/students?

Because there is no advanced degree required to administer these achievement tests, homeschooling parents/teachers who do not have a bachelor's or master's degree may administer the test themselves to their own students in their own home without all the hassle and expense of arranging for and driving to a separate testing site or getting someone else to administer it for you. This allows you to administer it yourself to your own children in their own learning environment at home!

What requirements are there for me to use these tests?

Piedmont Education Services is an approved reseller of the CAT5® and TerraNova2® throughout the United States. When you order, you are agreeing to abide by these following seven requirements:

1. Maintain the security of testing materials before and after the testing.
2. Adhere strictly to all copyright laws
3. Under no circumstances photocopy or otherwise reproduce the testing materials
4. Administer and interpret tests exactly as specified in the manual
5. Avoid labeling students based on a single test score 
6. Comply fully with all applicable laws in my state regarding achievement testing
7. Return all test materials to Piedmont Education Services at the end of my testing week

You must also abide by your state's laws regarding achievement testing.

It's important for you to know and understand your state's laws regarding achievement testing. (If you are homeschooling, and unsure about your state's requirements, please visit our home school laws page in the blog section.)

Here in North Carolina, the homeschool/private school law states that "Each qualified non-public school shall administer. . .at least once in each school year. . .a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement selected by the chief administrative officer. . . "

You can see then for the state of North Carolina (and similarly in other states as well), when simply stated, that in the matter of the achievement test, you have perfect liberty both to choose the kind of test your child takes, and to determine the time, place and setting in which the test is given. You may also choose who gives the achievement test to your child. And while the North Carolina Dept. of Non-Public Education (the government regulatory agency responsible for oversight of home schools and all other private traditional classroom schools in the state) recommends that a third party administer the test, NC law makes no such requirement.

It is also helpful to remember that (again according to NC state law), if you are home schooling, your school is legally considered a non-public or private school. As such, you, the parent-teacher-administrator of your own private school, have all the privileges of controlling every aspect of your children's education.

If you are ordering from anywhere outside of North Carolina, please be sure to follow your own state's laws regarding the administration of achievement tests. You may wish to contact your state's authorities for oversight of home schools for more information.

How do these tests compare to other types of nationally standardized achievement tests?

Since all the different tests are made by different companies, you will have some subtle differences. Frankly, however, I have not seen a major difference in any of the tests. Some researchers say that the ITBS and the Stanford stress more reasoning skills; but after evaluating both the CAT5® and TerraNova2® with the ITBS, SAT/10, and others, I haven't seen that to be a major factor. All tests measure both memory recall and reasoning (so-called "higher order" thinking skills). Some questions may stress this more than others, but all tests have both kinds of questions. This is the nature of the achievement test.

Most nationally standardized achievement tests (TerraNova2, ITBS, CAT, Stanford, MET) are similar in that they use a multiple choice, fill-in-the-bubble, workbook format, national norms, scores broken down into various types (Grade Equivalents, Percentile Rankings, Stanines) based on national norms (i.e. comparisons to other children having taken the test across the USA). Subjects tested, time frames for completing the tests, and the exact number of questions will vary somewhat. The layout will usually be somewhat different, and newer versions/editions of the tests will often have more modern pictures and photos.

The biggest difference in the test questions is that most of the newer versions of all of the tests have more "multiculturalism" ("the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, for practical reasons and/or for the sake of diversity and applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this context, multiculturalists advocate extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism). This is especially true in Social Studies which, as a general rule in the public schools, teaches about subjects like Kwanzaa, the exploitation of native Americans by Europeans, etc., and/or other possible questions reflecting more contemporary values/ideas and/or political correctness. Some of the tests have more of this than others. However, all nationally standardized achievement tests have this to some degree or other.

All tests produce excellent score reports which have different data for comparing your child(ren) to others across the country.

As for who can administer the test, while most test publishers allow homeschooling parents to administer the test to their own children, some testing companies have various stricter policies in place. However, only the CAT/5, the TerraNova, and the PASS test do not require a bachelor's degree or other advanced degree to administer.

All-in-all, selecting which achievement test to use is like choosing a car to drive. All tests have slightly different "bells and whistles" or minor features, but all do the same basic job of getting you where you need to go. Truthfully, any of the nationally standardized achievement tests will accomplish the task of evaluating your child(ren)'s academic progress from year to year and/or satisfying your state's legal requirement for testing. Therefore, your decision as to which test to use may rest on something as simple as personal preference, the price of the test/service, and/or the quality of service and information you get from the test provider. We hope we excel in these areas and that you will allow us to serve you and your testing needs.

When are the CAT5 and TerraNova2 tests available?

Our achievement tests are available year-round. See the specific dates and other requirements on the specific product pages.

Is there a deadline for ordering?

Yes and No! We ask that you try to order the tests at least three(3) weeks before your selected Preferred Test Week. That way we will be sure to have enough test booklets on hand and can ship them to you in good time for you to administer the tests. However, we do often have extras available for every grade. Therefore, if you have any doubt about your testing week and the test's availability, please feel free to call us at 336-815-1142 and we may be able to expedite shipping.

How do I choose the correct test level?

Normally, you would the select the grade level that your student is just completing. However, if you know a student is not performing up to grade level, you can test "out of level" by dropping back a grade. For students in so-called "gifted" or "advanced placement", or who may want to move ahead in the graded organization of school subjects, you may also test "out of level" by using a test book from a higher grade. Keep in mind that every test has overlapping test sections, with an approximate three-grade range of difficulty. For instance, the 4th grade test has some 3rd grade questions, some 4th grade, and some 5th grade questions in each subsection of the test book. The scores will reflect their grade equivalent (i.e. being compared to others in that particular grade) so you will still be able to tell where the student is performing academically.

When will I receive my tests?

You will usually receive your test materials sometime the week before the scheduled "Preferred Testing Week" you selected on your order form. The price includes shipping to you the following items: our instruction sheets, the Test Directions, Student Book and Answer Sheet (Gr. K-12) appropriate for your student's grade level, scoring report, plus a pre-paid label to return all materials to us. All test packages are shipped by USPS Media, First Class or Priority Mail (which includes tracking and insurance). If you require Express or Overnight, or an alternative carrier, you will be asked to pay the additional charges (please call for price and availability).

Is there a refund given if I am not able to use my test?

Yes, refunds are possible, but we will deduct the cost of shipping, plus a restocking fee and/or credit card processing fee if applicable. Materials returned must be in good condition for redistribution to other homeschoolers. Credit toward future purchases of any of our product and services may also be given in lieu of a refund. Each situation will be evaluated on its own merit. Please make every reasonable effort to determine that this is the test you need as well as to schedule the testing in advance with plenty of time to spare to meet reporting deadlines, government mandates, etc. Since all testing materials remain the property of Piedmont Education Services, you will be held responsible for any lost or damaged testing materials. Please be aware: an additional fee of $30 will be charged if all testing materials are not returned to us within 14 days of your scheduled testing week. Piedmont Education Services reserves the right to deny service or cancel orders from any customer at any time. Thank you for understanding.

Administering the Tests:

What should I do before I begin administering the tests?


1. Make sure the materials you received match your order. If not, immediately call to correct it. (Mistakes you made in ordering will constitute an additional charge of shipping.)

2. Read the Test Directions.

3. Plan your testing time as instructed in the Test Directions.

4. Please DO NOT write in any of the Test Directions or Student test books. (Exception: Only Grades 1-3 allow students to fill in the circle right in the book. All other grades use a separate answer sheet.) An additional charge of $10 per book will be charged before scores are released if the books are written in or damaged in any way. Parents/teachers are responsible for their students' actions in regards to these testing materials.

5. PLEASE, NO FOOD OR DRINK while handling or administering the tests. The paperback test books and answer sheets are very easy to damage when they come in contact with food, grease and/or liquids. To avoid any additional charges, you should return all materials in as good a condition as you received them.

6. Complete the name & data grids for student's last name, first name, date of birth, gender, TerraNova Level and Grade. All other grids are optional/not applicable. Incomplete grids could result in the forms being lost or unable to be scored!

How long do I have to administer the tests?


All test materials must be returned by 14 days from the beginning of your selected Preferred Test Week. The various parts (or subtests) can be administered in a little as two morning sessions or spread out over several days; the choice is yours. It is not recommended to do everything in one day. You should follow the specific instructions in the Test Directions; subtests (especially in older grades) are often timed and should not be broken up or time frames disregarded, except in the case of "non-standard" administration for students with special needs or learning challenges. However, it is allowable to separate or change the order of the test segments as is best for the student. Usually, one(1) week is sufficient to administer the tests to your student(s) and then package them up to return to us. But if you have extenuating emergency circumstances, please call us at 336-815-1142 for assistance. Please be aware: an additional fee of $30 will be charged if all testing materials are not returned to us by 14 days from the beginning of your scheduled testing week.

What should I do if my child is sick or there are other emergencies/unavoidable problems?


We ask that you plan carefully in every detail for your testing week and not make last-minute, unnecessary changes in your schedule. However, we certainly understand that illness and/or other emergencies arise from time to time, and we will allow you extra time to complete the tests. But you must call us at 336-815-1142 if you do have such emergencies/problems. You are responsible to return all materials to us in a timely manner. Please be aware: an additional fee of $30 will be charged if all testing materials are not returned to us by 14 days from the beginning of your scheduled testing week.

May I or my student(s) write in the test booklets?


All Grades use separate "scantron-type" answer sheets. Please use scratch paper to record your start and stop times or to make other notations, and to allow the student extra work space for math or drawing. Make sure the students do not write or make extraneous marks in any of the testing books. An additional cost of $10 per book will be charged before test scores are released to you if the books are written in or damaged in any way. Parents/teachers are responsible for their students' actions in this regard.

Students with learning challenges who need additional help with filling in bubbles on the answer sheet, etc., should be assisted by their parents or other competent person to complete the answer choices and make appropriate mark on the answer sheet rather than circling answers in the book.

PLEASE, NO FOOD OR DRINK while handling or administering the tests. The paperback test books are very easy to damage when they come in contact with food, grease and/or liquids. To avoid any additional charges, you should return all materials in as good a condition as you received them. We ask that you take care of the books, and not to write in them or damage them in any way, because we reuse the test books for other families. The only way we can continue to stay in business and offer this testing service is to reuse the books over a year's period of time, allowing multiple families to take the test, return the books to us, and then we repeat that process. In the materials we send you, we state that you are not purchasing the books, but are leasing them from us for the purpose of testing. You are purchasing our service and the score reports obtained from that service. A damaged book fee will be charged if books are not returned in a satisfactory condition.

Please remember, you are leasing, not purchasing, the tests and actual booklets, etc. You are purchasing an achievement testing service and the score reports obtained from that service. All testing materials remain the property of Piedmont Education Services, an authorized reseller/distributor of the CAT5® and TerraNova2®copyrighted materials and facilitator of the testing service. Please be aware: an additional fee of $30 will be charged if all testing materials are not returned to us by 14 days from the beginning of your scheduled Preferred Testing Week. Thank you for your help in this matter.

Why do you charge a $30 late fee or $10 damaged book fee, and how can I avoid them?

 1. We depend on the re-use of the non-consumable test books to stay in business providing this testing service to many homeschools and private schools. Your prompt return of the test books will allow us to serve others in a timely fashion.

2. Unfortunately, in past years, we have had an excessive number of delinquent accounts, damaged books, late returns or even failures to return the books. The late fee and damaged book fees are not meant to be mean but to simply motivate those few customers who need prodding to take good care of the books and return everything on time. The fees are similar to what you might pay if you rented a tool or something at a local rental company: you pay for the rental secured by a credit card, take the item home, use it accordingly, and then return it in the time alloted, or pay additional charges for damage or for keeping it longer. Our fees are no different.

3. New books are, frankly (in our humble opinion :-)), rather expensive. I can certainly understand why the test publisher sets its prices as they do; they have proprietary information and research and development, etc. tied up in creating the tests. But since the test publisher does not deal directly with individuals or homeschools, we buy in bulk from the publisher at their advertized prices, and then rent the books and offer the scoring service to families and schools. There is a very small profit margin on the direct sale of tests, and we could not stay in business if we had to purchase new books for every student. Therefore, we re-use the non-consumable test booklets several times over in a season. This allows us to keep expenses low and be competetive with other testing companies, by not having to pass on the higher expenses to you. This business model is the way all of the other testing companies work. We depend on your help in this matter and thank you in advance for your co-operation.

How can you avoid late fees and damaged book fees?

1. Make sure that all test booklets and answer sheets are free from extraneous pencil marks. (The scoring computer renders answers incorrect if there are unnecessary marks on the page.)

2. If you have more than one test, sort answer sheets by grade & alphabetize them within each grade.

3. Securely package ALL materials sent to you (in the envelope or box we provide) & return them to us at Piedmont Education Services, 4755 Duffer Lane, Pfafftown, NC 27040. 

4. You can avoid any additional charges by returning all materials in as good a condition as you received them as soon as you have completed the tests. Please remember, you are leasing, not purchasing, the tests & actual booklets, etc. You are purchasing an achievement testing service and the student(s) score reports obtained from that service. All testing materials remain the property of Piedmont Education Services, an authorized reseller of the copyrighted materials and facilitator of the testing service. You can avoid the $30 late fee if all testing materials are returned to us by 14 days from the beginning of your scheduled testing week.

What happens to my student(s)' answer documents when I return them?

When you return all your testing materials to us, we check to make sure they are in good condition and then note your file accordingly. We then begin processing the answer documents for scoring Scoring and printing reports takes about 3-4 days. Your computer-generated report(s) will then be returned to you via PDF file in email or if requested a hard copy can be mailed by USPS First Class Mail.

What does the report look like?

The score reports for the CAT5® and TerraNova2® are comparable to other testing services, and includes common norm-referenced scores such as the Grade Equivalent, Percentile Ranking, Stanines, etc., for each subject.

Do scores on the TerraNova2® reflect a student's understanding or use of a particular curriculum?

No. There is no specific curriculum attached to or associated with the CAT5® and TerraNova2® (nor, for that matter, any other brand of nationally standardized achievement test). Rather, the subjects and skills measured by the tests seek to reflect those commonly taught in traditional school curricula used in all types of schools - public, private and homeschool - in the USA. The score reports will, therefore, give academic achievement data that compares the students to the normative group, i.e. their grade peers across the country in these various types of schools who originally took the test to form the norm group. This is why these are called "Nationally Standardized (or normed)" achievement tests.

Why do we use this newer edition of the TerraNova2® test? 

There are three(3) basic reasons we now offer the TerraNova2® and its 2005 norms:

1. The publisher has discontinued all printing, scoring, servicing and reprint licenses for the CAT/5®. The TerraNova, Second Ed., Complete battery, also known as the CAT/6, is the next available edition for homeschools and private schools.


Nationally standardized achievement testing began in the early 1900's as a way to compare the academic progress of students in public schools throughout the nation without regard to social/economic/cultural biases, differences in teaching styles and curricula, or techniques and other biases that often affect individual subjective grading. The tests were designed to be administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard" manner, in such a way that the questions, the directions and conditions for administering them, the scoring procedures, and the interpretation protocols were all the same for all students (except for those who had special needs who are allowed a "non-standard" administration of the tests). These tests were perceived to be a more fair and reliable comparison of outcomes across all test takers, and to provide a means for teacher/student accountability as a result. (from Wikipedia.com)

Over the years, free market capitalism allowed the rise of specific test publishers who catered to the needs of the public schools, creating the various tests to reflect the basic skills being taught, administering the tests to a variety of social, economic, cultural and ethnic groups throughout the country, compiling the results of those group testings in what is called a "normative" or "norm-referenced" statistical analysis that can be empirically documented, and then selling those tests back to the schools and/or general public at a profit.

You can imagine that since producing such a test is quite an expensive undertaking, the publishers of all nationally standardized achievement tests only revise their tests about every five(5) to ten(10) years or so. The previous tests do not stop being valid; they are just superceded by a new "norming" or comparison group. Sometimes test publishers simply statistically "recalibrate" the score results based on the most recent US Census; other times the test publishers create an entire brand new book.

This is what has happened with the CAT/5®. Originally called the California Achievement Test when it first appeared in the 1950's, the CAT has actually undergone six(6) revisions, and even a name change to now being called "TerraNova." During the design phase of each edition, the norms are again established by administering the test to a large, representative sample of the US school age population (in the case of the CAT, over 30,000 students). Then the new tests are distributed and promoted as "newer" and "more up to date" versions of the test. Of course, the new tests are often only "newer" in the fact that they may reflect what is being currently taught in the public schools at the time of the new version, or have more modern language, photos, graphic design, advertising, etc.

For more information on "Norm-Referenced Achievement Testing", please visit this helpful site http://www.fairtest.org/norm-referenced-achievement-tests

2. The TerraNova2® is an Accurate Measurement of Academic Performance in the Basic Skills:


The TerraNova2® is recognized by the publisher and schools nationwide as a valid "assessment instrument that will give you useful, comprehensive information...in regard to academic goals...The test samples the many and varied skills represented in selected domains of any curriculum, from which sampling you will be able to make inferences about overall achievement. Your specific instructional program will not and need not align with the specific test content. Teachers necessarily teach differently, apply various creative innovations and techniques/methods, as well as impart broad concepts and strategies for applying learning to new problems and situations. The TerraNova2® seeks to do two major things:

1.) show the student's relative strengths and weaknesses when compared to others of his age/grade.

2.) reveal the student's probable relative progress in academic skills from year to year." (quoted from material published by CTB/McGraw-Hill)

3. The TerraNova2® has 2005 norms and is a low-cost way to meet your achievement testing needs:

Many people have requested the newer norms, and some states require norms that are only 10 years old or newer. Our pricing structure and scoring service gives you a low-cost way to meet your achievement testing needs and learn as much as you possibly can about your student's academic progress.

Is there anyone who can help me understand my test reports?

Yes, individual personalized evaluations and academic consultations are available year round, for an additional small fee, by our experienced staff, by phone or email. You may choose to receive a brief consultation to review and discuss your students' test scores and any curriculum suggestions, learning styles, etc. This is very similar to what we have done for the past 15 years with personalized test administration, with the exception that instead of driving to various cities and locations to meet with you personally, we will now speak with you privately by phone after you have administered the achievement tests to your students and the score reports have been received. If you would like this helpful option, please be sure to complete the appropriate box on the order form, click here for more information, or call Paul at 336-815-1142. We look forward to serving you!

What types of scores will I see on my scored reports and what do they mean?

The publishers of all nationally standardized achievement tests make a wide range of scoring types and data, with little difference in the way the data is derived, since they all are administered and scored in the exact same way. However, not every scoring type is available to everyone for two reasons: 1.) the expense involved, and 2.) the needs of the customers and/or what the test provider thinks is important.

Test publishers do not usually deal with individual parents/teachers or small schools, but often grant distribution agreements to testing companies, like Piedmont Education Services, who purchase the tests in bulk and and provide scoring services according to a pre-arrangement contract with the publisher. When providing the scoring services, these testing companies must choose, usually from a smorgasbord of scoring options offered by the publisher, those types of scores and reports that they think will best meet the needs of their customers, from very basic numbers to more complex reports, as well as still keep the company competitive with other testing companies. Thus, both the needs of the customer and the expense required to provide the service play big factors in what types of scores will be on any given report.

Therefore, because the vast majority of our customers want and/or need the basic set of traditional scores of National Stanines, Grade Equivalents and National Percentile Rankings, our score reports will include these three data points for each of the subtests administered, plus a graph that pictorially presents the scores in comparison with the student's age/grade peers in the norming group.

Also, the Objectives Performance Scores are again available.

Here are the names and explanations of the terms/scores you will see on the CAT5® and TerraNova2®. These terms are commonly used in most nationally standardized achievement tests. Feel free to call (336-815-1142) or email us (service@pesdirect.com) if you need additional help.

National Stanine (NS): categorizes test performance into only nine broad units (with "1" being the lowest and "9" being the highest), that always correspond exactly to percentiles; most often used to compare large groups of students.

Grade Equivalent (GE): an estimate of where the student is along a developmental continuum, not of where he should be place in the graded organization of the school. It may reflect the actual level of task difficulty a student can consistently perform. Thus, if a student receives a grade equivalent of 7.8, that says that he is estimated to do, in that particular subject, what an average student in that grade (and month, assuming nine months in a traditional school calendar) would do if given the same questions. However, GE's should always be interpreted with caution. Since the GE indicates the year and month of traditional school for which a student's score is typical, the scores should not be the sole criterion for grade placement or other evaluation.

National Percentile Ranking (NP): describes the student's performance and relative standing in the norming group. For example, a PR of 90 means that a student scored as well as or better than 90 percent of the students his age or grade level, which would put him in the top ten percent of the students who took the test.

What are some general guidelines for understanding these scores and how to use them in my teaching?

An achievement test is designed to help determine how much skill or knowledge students have in a certain area. . . whether students know as much as we expect they should, or whether they know particular things we regard as important. To accomplish this evaluation, test scores must be compared or referenced to something in order to bring meaning to them. That "something" is typically (a) the scores other students have obtained on the test or (b) a series of detailed descriptions that tell what students at each score point know or which skills they have successfully demonstrated. The first of these comparisons is called norm-referenced interpreting and involves comparing a student's scores with the scores of other students obtained on the same test. How much a student knows is determined by the student's standing or rank within the reference group. High standing is often interpreted to mean the student knows a lot or is highly skilled, and low standing is often interpreted to mean the opposite.

However, it is important to use care when interpreting test scores. Remember that norms are not standards of performance. Norms (usually reported as Grade Equivalent, Percentile Ranking, Standard Score, Age Equivalent, etc.) simply report how scores are distributed in a representative sample of the population. These scores are simply statistical comparisons of the individual student to the larger group of peers. By statistical definition, one-half of the subjects at any grade or age level must be at or below that grade or age score and one-half of the subjects must be at or above that grade or age score. Therefore, you should avoid labeling or categorizing students based on a single test's scores.

Careful consideration of the information. . .will result in varying implications for different students. Test patterns will provide information about an individual's strengths and weaknesses and, in some cases, provide insights relevant to necessary accommodations or appropriate instructional recommendations. However, test performance identifies only relative strengths and weaknesses. They are relative because they are identified comparing the performance of a single student to how he relates to the group. They are not necessarily absolute strengths and weaknesses.

However, testing is just one part of the total process. The teacher should compare and integrate test results with information from many sources, including firsthand observation of the student, the child's daily course work, parental reports, etc., to get a complete picture of the student's abilities and skills and subsequent application to curriculum needs and teaching methods.

Because test scores are rarely without error, it is essential that parents understand that the scores need to be interpreted as a score range rather than as a precise score point. Many parents have the mistaken notion that test scores provide a comprehensive picture of how well their child has progressed in school. However, one should not use test scores as the only indicator of school achievement.

The scores reported as Grade Equivalents (GE) and Percentile Ranking (PR) have the greatest potential to be misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. Grade Equivalents are usually an indicator of year-to-year growth. However, there are any number of factors that may affect a student's GE either positively or negatively. GE's are only an estimate of where the student is along a developmental continuum. They should not be valued as a precise measurement of how much the student has progressed from one grade to the next.

The same can be said for Percentile Rankings. Slight changes in a student's percentile ranking over time have very little meaning. A change from the 40th percentile in one grade to the 42nd percentile in the next grade may seem to mark little progress. Or a change from 68% to 61% may be regarded as no progress or even regression. However, it is important to understand that, because of the statistical nature of the achievement test norms, students who maintain nearly the same rank in their peer group from year to year are actually progressing at a rate that is typical for that grade. It is for these reasons that neither the GE's nor the PR's should be used as sole indicators of the student's overall achievement.

In short, nationally standardized achievement tests and their scores are not precise measurements, but are, rather, simple tools - among an wide array of educational items - that a wise educator may use to craft his teaching methods and curriculum and to guide his students' academic progress.