A conceptual analysis of standard setting in large-scale assessments

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Elements of arbitrariness in the standard setting process are explored, and an alternative to the use of cut scores is presented. The first part of the paper analyzes the use of cut scores in large-scale assessments, discussing three different functions: (1) cut scores define the qualifications used in assessments; (2) they simplify the reporting of achievement distributions; and (3) they allow for the setting of targets for such distributions. The second part of the paper gives a decision-theoretic alternative to the use of cut scores and shows how each of the three functions identified in the first part can be approached in a way that may reduce some of the arbitrary nature of standard setting processes. The third part of the paper formulates criteria for standard setting methods that can be used to evaluate their results.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherUniversiteit Twente, Faculteit Toegepaste Onderwijskunde
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 1994

Publication series

NameOMD research report
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Faculty of Educational Science and Technology


  • IR-103732
  • Criteria
  • Cutting Scores
  • Foreign Countries
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Academic Achievement
  • Test Construction
  • Standards
  • Standard Setting (Scoring)
  • Scoring
  • METIS-136731
  • Educational Assessment


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