I have a spoon. I would want to know if the spoon I have is an excellent spoon. Well, I would do two things, the first one:
I will ask other people who used the same brand of spoon about their opinions or analyses about the spoon, and see if that applies to the spoon I have, or
Have experts cite criteria or standards of what an excellent spoon should have and test the spoon that I have.
As you can see, the former scores the spoon as how its performance relate to the performance of the other spoons; the latter scores the spoon’s performance if it can reach a certain standard.
Apart from spoons, we experience these kinds of interpretation in our schools, industries, and communities – reaching a certain percentage to pass an exam, assessing an employee on how many calls can he make in comparison with the group he or she is in. We are tested and are interpreted in two ways: the norm – referenced tests and criterion – referenced tests.
Norm – referenced Tests
The norm – referenced test basically determines one’s performance in relation to the performance of a certain group. In High School, we have quiz bees. In these contests, the quiz master will look at where you place in comparison with the other contestants. We also have NMAT which provides the test taker percentile ranks. For example in the overall, you scored 90, this means that you scored better than the 89% of the population who took the exam. Another example, a candidate who took a 16PF exam and received a score. That score then is compared to the norm set of choice. Of course, this gives little information on how much the individual knows, or how much the candidate has. We now go to the second one:
Criterion – referenced Tests
For the criterion – referenced tests, the performance is determined by how you scored based on a certain criterion or standard. In schools we having passing grades, or when applying in a company, there is a certain level of competency to be achieved, and this is independent of the performance of others.
Of course, these criteria depends on the school, company or organization one belongs. For example, in School A, you need to reach 50% of the items to pass while in School B would require at least 70%. Same in companies, when you do not reach, let us say, 60% of the items in their exam for coders, you will not be allowed to continue to take the next step in recruitment.
When do we use them? Well it would depend on the need of the company or organization. For example, why do schools use criterion-referenced interpretations, have cut offs in passing or failing? It is for the reason that some schools would want students to be graded on how much they know and how they perform compared to the standard set rather on how they perform in comparison with other students. With that in mind, if a teacher or professor in that certain school would want to determine how the class performs in his or her subject, who are the high, mid, and low scorers, he would then use a norm-referenced interpretation alongside with the standard set by the school to answer his or her question.
The usage of the norms or criteria as references depends on how one would want to interpret the data for analysis and assessment.
Bond, L. (1996). Norm- and criterion-referenced testing. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 5(2)
Boyd, N. (n.d.). Types of tests: Norm-referenced vs. criterion-referenced. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/types-of-tests-norm-referenced-vs-criterion-referenced.html
Huitt, W. (n.d.). Measurement and evaluation: Criterion- versus norm-referenced testing. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/measeval/crnmref.html
Afolayan, A. (n.d.). The problems and potentials of criterion-referenced testing. Retrieved from http://www.unilorin.edu.ng/journals/education/ije/feb1981/THE%20PROBLEMS%20AND%20POTENTIALS%20OF%20CRITERION%20REFERENCED%20TESTING.pdf
Originally posted on LinkedIn last December 1, 2015
Image by Todd Porter
Small corner of the internet that we have put up for sharing ideas about personality and aptitude assessment. Our articles cover topics as light as personal reflections on the day-to-day experience of an assessment consultant to in-depth discussions on current practices and theories of the current assessment field.