Standardized Test Vocabulary

Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson will highlight vocabulary terms that are commonly associated with standardized assessment tests. A short quiz will follow that will allow you to test your knowledge.

Standardized Test

The term assessment refers to the collection, analysis and interpretation of data related to individual students as well as groups of students. Educators should keep in mind that no single test can paint a complete picture of a student. However, assessments can be used to determine if students understood a particular lesson, or, like standardized assessments, they can be used to determine whether students learned what they needed to learn in order to be considered proficient at their grade level. Quarterly benchmarks, language proficiency tests and end-of-grade tests are examples of standardized assessments.

Types of Standardized Assessments

The term standardized assessment simply means that all students will answer the same questions and have their responses scored the same way. Score results are then compared as a group to see if grade level learning goals were met for that particular group.

For example, a standardized assessment for seventh grade students will assess whether these students have acquired the knowledge necessary for seventh grade. Results are then compared with other seventh grade students within the district and across the state to determine those learning targets that were achieved and those that were not.

There are several types of standardized assessments are used to measure achievement, but for now, let's look at the three most common:

Summative Assessments

A summative assessment is used to measure student learning outcomes at the end of a course. An end-of-course exam for biology, for example, would be used to determine if students in the course mastered the necessary concepts or ideas related to biology.

Criterion Referenced Assessments

When students are measured by a specific performance-based standard, this is known as criterion reference. If you, as the teacher, decide that any student who correctly answers ten out of 15 questions will have met the performance standard, then all students who score ten or greater will have met the criteria for the test.

Norm-Referenced Assessments

Teachers who grade on a 'curve' are using norm-referencing. When assessment scores are norm-referenced, students' results are compared to each other. Students who score the highest usually set the standard for the other test-takers. For example, using curved grading, if the highest score in the class is a 95 out of 100, then all students who received a 95 will have an A. The number of students who scored a 95 will determine how other students' scores will be graded. In this case, it may be possible for a student who earns an 80 to have a C or D based on the grading curve.

Assessment-Related Vocabulary

There is a lot to assessment tests. There are a plethora of terms that can become confusing when not fully understood. Let's look at some of the more common vocabulary terms that you will likely see when dealing with assessment tests.

Reliability is based on the consistency of an assessment. It refers to the ability to achieve the same results under similar conditions. If a certain group of students is retested on the same concept over a period of time, it is expected that their scores will be the same. For example, the teacher may create a test to see how well students understand how to add improper fractions. Lets say only 20% of students passed the test. If the teacher retests students on adding improper fractions using a similar test and the passage rate is still low, it can be assumed that both tests are a reliable measure of student achievement.

Validity refers to the accuracy of a particular assessment. Does the assessment measure what it's supposed to measure?

Performance-based assessments test students' abilities to demonstrate mastery of an objective. On performance-based assessments, students are asked to complete an assignment or activity (such as a project or oral presentation) that would allow the teacher to assess whether students understood the overall concepts related to a lesson.

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