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ERIC Number: EJ893151
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-0267-1522
Understanding Comparability of Examination Standards
Coe, Robert
Research Papers in Education, v25 n3 p271-284 Sep 2010
Much of the argument about comparability of examination standards is at cross-purposes; contradictory positions are in fact often both defensible, but they are using the same words to mean different things. To clarify this, two broad conceptualisations of standards can be identified. One sees the standard in the observed phenomena of performance in relation to specified criteria (performance view); the other sees it in terms of the levels achieved by comparable candidates (statistical view). These views are quite different and can lead to contradictory conclusions. Both views are problematic conceptually and operationally. The alternative view, that standards cannot be defined but are a pure convention, is rejected as inadequate. Standards of different examinations can legitimately be compared provided there is a common construct in terms of which to compare them. There is no absolute sense in which one examination is harder than another--it depends on the construct. If such a construct is hypothesised, a validity argument must be made for interpreting those examinations as indicators of it. The practical problem of ensuring comparability across examinations may be resolved by trying to satisfy all views or agreeing to prioritise one, though both approaches will be stretched by too much variety in examination formats. If we want diversity in our examination system, we may need to consider approaches where comparability is conferred in the use and interpretation of examination grades rather than in the awarding.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom