Norm- and Criterion-Referenced Testing

  • Created by: JTrout
  • Created on: 17-05-21 11:37

Tests can be categorized into two major groups: norm-referenced tests and criterion-referenced tests. These two tests differ in their intended purposes, the way in which content is selected, and the scoring process which defines how the test results must be interpreted. This brief paper will describe the differences between these two types of assessments and explain the most appropriate uses of each.


The major reason for using a norm-referenced tests (NRT) is to classify students. NRTs are designed to highlight achievement differences between and among students to produce a dependable rank order of students across a continuum of achievement from high achievers to low achievers (Stiggins, 1994). School systems might want to classify <a href="">students</a> in this way so that they can be properly placed in remedial or gifted programs. These types of tests are also used to help teachers select students for different ability level reading or mathematics instructional groups.

With norm-referenced tests, a representative group of students is given the test prior to its availability to the public. The scores of the students who take the test after publication are then compared to those of the norm group. Tests such as the California Achievement Test (CTB/McGraw-Hill), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Riverside), and the Metropolitan…




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