GLOSSARY OF TERMS
NORM-REFERENCED TEST --
A test in which the scores are evaluated in terms of their comparative
ranking among the other scores on the test. The ACT, SAT, Iowa Basics
and most, if not all, intelligence tests are norm-referenced tests.
Scores on norm referenced tests take the form of a normal curve and are
interpreted in terms of percentiles, that is, the position of a given
score on the normal curve. Most academic achievement tests are
CRITERION-REFERENCED TEST --
A test in which scores are evaluated, not in terms of comparative rankings,
but rather, in terms of the percentage of mastery of a predetermined
standard. Behind-he-wheel driving tests are criterion-referenced tests.
Most manual skills tests are criterion-referenced. Other examples
include tests of typing speed and accuracy, tests in the military for
strength and tests measuring the effects of alcohol on muscular
Methods of measuring student progress. "Assessments" is a broader
and more ambiguous word than tests. It includes tests but also includes
highly subjective evaluations such as rating scales, observation and
student opinion. The root meaning of "assess" is to attach a value to
something. The change in language from "tests" to "assessments" is
symptomatic of the shift in education from focusing on knowledge to
focusing on values, attitudes and behavior.
HIGH STAKES TEST --
A test that a student must pass in order to progress from one level
to the next. The term is usually used today to mean a test that a
student must pass in order to graduate from high school
(Schools spend weeks prior to the tests practicing to take the tests.)
Basic Skills Tests (Basic Standards Tests): (High Stakes) --
A 6th grade level test first given in 8th grade for reading and math
and in 10th grade for writing that students must pass in order to
graduate from a public high school. It has been described by the
Department of Children, Families and Learning as a "functional
Reading and Math: administered in February for all 8th graders and
again in April and July for students who have not already passed.
Writing: administered in January for all 10th graders.
Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA's) --
An assessment that tests the success of the school in administering the
Profile of Learning. This is not a high stakes test. There is no pass
or fail and there is no remediation follow-up. Schools are required to
give the test to all students and the school is measured by its results,
but there is no requirement that a student take the test. The tests
are given to 3rd, 5th and 10th graders.
Third and Fifth graders are tested in reading and math. Fifth graders
a written composition test. The 10th grade writing test
is serving as an
MCA in addition to its role as a high stakes Basic Skills Test.
Reading and math: administered to all 3rd and 5th graders in March.
Writing: administered to 5th graders in March and to 10th graders in
PERFORMANCE PACKAGES --
Series of tasks and assignments that a student must do to demonstrate an
understanding of the state-prescribed content standards.
CONTENT STANDARDS --