ERIC Number: ED402327
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Aug
Norm-Referenced Testing and Criterion-Referenced Testing: The Differences in Purpose, Content, and Interpretation of Results.
Bond, Linda A.
Norm-referenced tests (NRT) help compare the performance of one student with the performances of a large group of students, while criterion-referenced tests (CRT) focus on "what test takers can do and what they know, not how they compare to others" (Anastasi, 1988). Both types of test can be standardized so that scores can be interpreted the same way for all students and schools. Test content for an NRT is selected according to how well it ranks students from high achievers to low, while the content of a CRT is selected by how well it matches the learning outcomes deemed most important, or on the basis of its importance in the curriculum. NRTs have come under attack recently because they tend to focus on low-level, basic skills. CRTs, on the other hand, give detailed information about how well a student has performed on each of the educational goals or outcomes included in the test. In 1994, 31 states administered NRTs and 33 administered CRTs, and 22 of these states administered both. Only two states rely on NRTs exclusively, and only one relies exclusively on a CRT. Most states also administer some other form of assessment. States will have to match their choice of assessment strategies to their intended purposes, the content they wish to assess, and the kinds of interpretation they want to make about student performance. (Contains six references.) (SLD)
Descriptors: Achievement Tests, Criterion Referenced Tests, Educational Testing, Norm Referenced Tests, Outcomes of Education, Scores, Standardized Tests, State Programs, Test Construction, Test Content, Test Use, Testing Programs
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1900 Spring Road, Suite 300, Oak Brook, IL 60521-1480.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: North Central Regional Educational Lab., Oak Brook, IL.