fact sheets

Norm-Referenced Achievement Tests

Human beings make tests. They decide what topics to include on the test, what kinds of questions to ask, and what the correct answers are, as well as how to use test scores. Tests can be made to compare students to each other (norm-referenced tests) or to see whether students have mastered a body of knowledge (criterion or standards-referenced tests). This fact sheet explains what NRTs are, their limitations and flaws, and how they affect schools.


The Limits of Standardized Tests for Diagnosing and Assisting Student Learning


Standardized tests have historically been used as measures of how students compare with each other (norm-referenced) or how much of a particular curriculum they have learned (criterion-referenced). Increasingly, standardized tests are being used to make major decisions about students, such as grade promotion or high school graduation, and schools. More and more often, they also are intended to shape curriculum and instruction.

Testing and Grade Retention

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