The Iowa test is a battery of tests that are 'standardized'. This means that grades are not computed on percent of answers right, but grades are computed based on where the student's score compares to other students in their age/grade level. A child is then labeled by 'percentile' in each area of the test. A child may score a 98%, meaning that they scored better than 98% of children at their grade level. Standardized tests are nice because they show how well a child is progressing compared to their peers.
But a standardized test has it's drawbacks. A standardized test has the drawback of only being useful in comparison to another person. This works decently for education purposes, but it fails completely when it comes to our walk with God. A standardized test grades on 'the curve': a normalized distribution of grades under a bell shaped curve. In a normal distribution 68% of individuals fall within 1 standard deviation of the norm. 68% of people are characterized as average.
When we carry this over to our walk with God, it is easy to think that if we are average, we must be doing OK. This would be the case if God's standard was the 'norm' - or the average of all behavior. But God's standard is absolute holiness. That means that the bell curve can be thrown out, because no matter where we fall compared to others, we fall far short of God's absolute standard.
In school, there was at times pressure from some in a class for everyone to 'throw' a test. If it was known that a test was graded on a curve, it was believed that if everyone did horribly bad, then everyone would get a good score. I never knew this to work perfectly, because someone always did their best. In that case, someone who only scored a 70% could get the highest grade in the class!
Since God's standard is different, we ought to pressure one another to do better, we ought to rejoice in the spiritual victories of others. They don't 'throw off the curve' for the rest of us, but as we grow together, we can encourage one another to press on towards God's holy standard.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
- I Peter 1:15-16