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Testing Glossary

Glossary of common terms used in testing

A benchmark provides a standard by which others may be measured. In testing, a benchmark provides a target that is appropriate for the group taking the test.

Criterion-Referenced Test
A test in which questions are written according to specific predetermined criteria. For example, Oregon’s state tests (OAKS) are constructed based on standards set by the state, and students are evaluated on the tests based on how well they demonstrate proficiency towards those standards.

Norms Test norms consist of data that make it possible to determine the relative standing of an individual who has taken a test to a group of other students that took the same test. For example, on our district assessments, the norms are based only on 4J students. A nationally administered college entrance exam, like the ACT or SAT, compares students to all other students across the country that took the same test. Norm-referenced tests compare a person’s score against the scores of a group of people who have already taken the same exam, called the “norm group.”

Percentiles are values that divide a sample of data into one hundred groups containing (as far as possible) equal numbers of observations. A student’s percentile score shows the percentage of other test takers that scored a lower or equal score. For example, a student who was ranked in the 90th percentile scored equal to or better than 90% of their peers taking the same test.

A percentage measures a figure out of a hundred parts, and locates a number in relation to the highest possible score. In tests a percentage score measures the student’s score in relation to the highest possible score. For example, if a student gets 90 out of 100 on a test, they wouls score 90%.

RIT Score The term RIT score is short for Rasch Unit, a scoring scale named for Georg Rasch, a Danish mathematician. The scale is continuous from 0 to infinity (most scores range in the 150 to 300 range) with equal intervals between score points across the full range. The continuous scale means that a student who improves by 10 points between 3rd and 4th grades (moving from 204 to 214) has improved just the same as a student who improves by 10 points between 5th and 6th grades (moving from 219 to 229). The Oregon Dept. of Education uses RIT scores when determining student achievement levels on OAKS tests.

Standard Deviation
Standard deviation is a measure of the spread or dispersion of a set of data.
The more widely the values are spread out, the larger the standard deviation. For example, say we have two separate lists of exam results from a class of 30 students; one ranges from 31% to 98%, the other from 82% to 93%, then the standard deviation would be larger for the results of the first exam.