Many states continue to use norm-referenced tests as their mandated assessment tools because they provide a broad picture of where schools stand. Examples of norm-referenced tests include the Stanford 9, the ITBS, and the TerraNova.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are criterion-based tests that focus on meeting state objectives. The MAP falls into this category. Salpeter and Foster (2000) state that some states have hired professionals to develop criterion-based tests. Scores on criterion-based tests are reported in terms of proficiency, with a certain number of correct answers required for a student to be considered to have mastered a particular objective.
If the ACT and similar norm-referenced tests are used to indicate where a student's college placement should be focused (Improving performance ona, 2002), high stakes state performance assessments are used as an accountability measure that can grade school and student performance alike. The latter group of tests are seen as emerging from a broad array of school indicators and as directly related to and reflective of the degree to which schools are teaching students with regard to desired educational outcomes.
Mabry (1999) contends that the value of performance testing on students can be enormous. However, standardization does not necessarily ensure that assessments of ability and skill will be realistic. This researcher recommends that the direct assessment of student achievement in writing judges writing skill on the basis of actual written productions -- a more effective assessment strategy than simply scoring multiple choice tests. Developing rubrics for assessment is recommended by Mabry (1999) as an alternative to or augmentation of standardized achievement or performance tests.
Mabry (1999, p. 673) stated that "in standardized, norm-referenced, multiple choice testing, agreements about what constitutes achievement are operationalized in a table of ...
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