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ERIC Number: ED456140
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
Pages: 33
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Cut Scores: Results May Vary. NBETPP Monographs, Volume 1, Number 1.
Horn, Catherine; Ramos, Miguel; Blumer, Irwin; Madaus, George
This paper discusses how cut scores are set and used and how accurately they reflect student achievement. Regardless of the method used, the cut-score setting process is subjective. The cut score is the point on a score scale that separates one performance standard from another. Cut scores may also be used to set performance levels for open-response assessments like essay tests. This monograph discusses three methods of setting cut scores: (1) the modified Angoff method; (2) Contrasting Groups; and (3) Bookmark procedures. A description of each process shows the pros and cons of each approach, especially when the scores are used to make high stakes decisions. All of these methods are subjective to some degree; it is important not to assume that established cut scores accurately reflect student performance. Other external evidence can help establish whether the choices made are appropriate. An example is provided in which students' performance on a second commercially developed standardized test is used to examine whether or not the performance standards of one high-stakes state examination, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), are capricious. The MCAS appears to tap into information that is similar, but not identical, to other standardized tests. Several possible reasons for the unexplained variance are discussed. It is important to remember that the MCAS is not an unquestionable source of information about student performance and that different cut scores might provide different information to students about their accomplishments. In educational assessment, there is the fundamental problem that performance levels are based on cut scores, and cut scores are based on judgment. (Contains 11 endnotes.) (SLD)
For full text:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Ford Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy, Chestnut Hill, MA.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System