Norms make it possible to make data-based statements about students’ relative strengths or weaknesses. 

Advantages of National Norms 

National norms compare the scores of your test-takers with a common standard defined by the performance of a representative national sample of students of the same age or in the same grade. When you administer the test to a new class of students, national norms provide a well-developed standard that allows you to see variation in the abilities of students being considered for talent development programs.

Advantages of Local Norms

The primary limitation of national norms is that they do not take into account local variations in ability or achievement. Policies that require all students in a school system or state to attain the same level of excellence on a nationally normed test can be problematic: such criteria result in some schools without any students served by a talent development program and other schools in which a substantial portion of the student population is labeled “gifted.”

The need for special instructional or academic programming at the local level depends on the discrepancy between a student’s current level of cognitive or academic development and that of his or her classmates—not that of all other students in the nation. Local norms serve this purpose.

Local norms are created from the distribution of standard age scores for a particular group (e.g., school or school system) that are scored at the same time. Standard age scores use the power of national norms to control for the effects of age. If all students tested were in the same grade and tested at approximately the same time, then the effects of grade are also controlled.

Local norms typically represent the performance of only a particular sample of students for the year in which the test is administered.