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Norm- vs. Criterion-Referenced Scoring: Advantages & Disadvantages

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  • 0:04 Using Assessments
  • 0:40 Raw Scores
  • 1:34 Criterion-Referenced Scores
  • 3:08 Norm-Referenced Scores
  • 3:43 Age/Grade Equivalent,…
  • 6:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
Assessment results allow educators to make important decisions about students' knowledge, abilities and future educational potential. There are multiple ways to summarize and interpret assessment results. This lesson will discuss ways to summarize norm-referenced assessments and criterion-referenced assessments.

Using Assessments

Teacher: Thank you for coming in today to meet with me regarding your child's progress in school. I want to provide you information on the multiple types of assessments we take in the classroom and explain how we score and use the results for various purposes.

We take multiple types of assessments in our class, and there are many ways I summarize the results of these assessments. These summaries provide feedback regarding your child's level of mastery and understanding. These assessments also give me a way to address any areas of weakness for individual students or in the class as a whole.

Raw Scores

The most basic way to summarize an assessment is through a raw score. A raw score is the score based solely on the number of correctly answered items on an assessment.

For example, this is your child's most recent math test. His raw score was a 96 because he got 96 items correct on the assessment. Raw scores are often used in teacher-constructed assessments.

The potential drawback to the use of raw scores is that they may be difficult to interpret without knowledge of how one raw score compares to a norm group, which is a reference group used to compare one test taker's score to similar other test takers. We'll talk about using norm-referenced scores in a moment. Raw scores may also be difficult to understand without comparing them to specific criteria, which we will discuss now.

Criterion-Referenced Scores

I want to discuss another method of scoring: criterion-referenced scoring. This refers to a score on an assessment that specifically indicates what a student is capable of or what knowledge they possess.

Student scores can be tied to an equivalent age or grade level.
Age Grade Equivalent Chart

Criterion-referenced scores are most appropriate when an educator wants to assess the specific concepts or skills a student has learned through classroom instruction. Most criterion-referenced assessments have a cut score, which determines success or failure based on an established percentage correct.

For example, in my class, in order for a student to successfully demonstrate their knowledge of the math concepts we discuss, they must answer at least 80% of the test questions correctly. Your child earned an 85% on his last fractions test; therefore, he demonstrated knowledge of the subject area and passed.

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