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ERIC Number: ED502119
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jul-25
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Making the Cut: How States Set Passing Scores on Standardized Tests. Explainer
Rotherham, Andrew J.
Education Sector
In the current climate of accountability in American public education, tests get more attention and carry more importance than ever before. Both state accountability systems and the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) hold schools accountable for whether students pass standardized state tests. NCLB requires that schools and school districts make "adequate yearly progress" in reading and math. The law's standard of adequate progress is a sufficient percentage of students passing statewide tests, and it requires serious consequences for schools that continually miss these performance targets. But states frequently do not explain what it actually means for a student to pass a state test, to be proficient, or how passing scores are established. Regardless of the process a particular state uses to set cut scores on its tests, there are steps all states can take to ensure quality as well as transparency for the public. States should: (1) Make the score setting process and the results more transparent and accessible; (2) Include outside representatives on score setting panels to improve alignment and help ensure rigor; and (3) Validate tests in an ongoing manner. The print and broadcast media should also take steps to ensure that the public has a full understanding of achievement data by reporting the whole story. To help the public understand what test scores mean, the media should describe how cut scores are set and what a passing score of proficient actually means in order to give the public a complete picture of the state's educational achievement. (Contains 8 endnotes, 2 figures, and 2 tables.)
Education Sector. 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 850, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-552-2840; Fax: 202-775-5877; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Sector
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001