Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time out for terminology: Norm-referenced, criterion-referenced

The tests students take are often characterized as "norm-referenced" or "criterion-referenced." Those terms define how the test is scored.

Norm-referenced means the score compares a given student's work to the students in a norm-group--meaning a sample of students who took the test earlier. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills, for example, reports students' percentile scores, with a student who scores in the 49th percentile having done better than 49 percent of the students in the sample group.

Criterion-referenced means the score compares a student's work to a standard of desired quality. The Kentucky drivers' permit test requires a score of 80%, making that the standard of knowledge a person must have before even beginning to practice behind the wheel.

Thanks to Lou Ann Ramos for asking about both terms.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!