Placement Test Sets the Bar for Incoming Students

For the first time since the 1930's NFA will conduct a standardized High School Placement Test (HSPT) for all incoming students to help to assure that students are appropriately placed to maximize their growth potential on all levels.

The decision to implement the test, produced by Scholastic Testing Service, came after the success of the honors program placement test, which began two years ago. The goal of the test is to have one consistent set of data for all entering students no matter where they attended their elementary and middle school years.

The HSPT was the first test designed specifically for placement of students entering high school from various elementary schools, and since 1955 it has been recognized as a reliable standard measurement of high school readiness. Last year over 156,000 students took the test across the country.

“At NFA we offer a variety of programs and courses for ninth-grade students,” said Jessica St. George, School Counseling Department Head. “The test will help us to place students in the appropriate level of classes in order for them to be both challenged and successful. Our goal is to have students begin with success right from the start in grade nine.”

The three-hour test assesses quantitative and mathematical skills, reading content, and language arts. NFA professionals will use test results along with eight-grade teacher recommendations, eighth-grade academic performance, and district standardized test scores to best place all students into ninth-grade courses while being mindful of maintaining NFA's traditional strength in its geographic, racial, and cultural diversity.

Planning for this initiative began in September. NFA Head of School, David Klein, 9th Grade House Principal Diane Giarratona, and St. George collaborated with NFA’s partner superintendents and participated in a larger discussion about how the test can produce annual data sets by which area superintendents and local Boards of Education could measure the value of the NFA experience.  

“The collaboration between NFA and each of our partner districts has been seamless,” St. George said. “We all have the common goal of helping our students see success and a smooth transition to NFA.”

NFA and partner district personnel have spent countless hours organizing, planning, and administering the HSPT. Beginning in February, NFA Heads of Departments, school counselors, administrators, and other personnel have been administering the test during the school day for each incoming student at partner district schools, and on a Saturday for those not attending a partner school.

Results will be shared with partners and parents through the Scholastic Testing’s offsite electronic scoring data file with individual student score reports. More information about the test and a guide for parents are available online at

Norwich Free Academy, incorporated 1854, is the only remaining privately governed, independently endowed academy in the state of Connecticut. Blending the very best of private and public education, NFA offers students a truly unparalleled four-year student experience. Committed from the beginning to a culturally diverse and inclusive community, Norwich Free Academy reflects the diversity of our region and nation -geographically, economically, linguistically, and racially. Students experience the richness of global learning and see the world from a variety of perspectives.