Standardized Testing

Standardized Testing

Standardized Tests

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about standardized tests:

What is the difference between criterion-referenced and norm-referenced tests?
A criterion-referenced test is a standardized test that measures students against criteria that are spelled out in advance. The SCPASS test is a criterion-referenced test because students are tested on mastery of state standards. A norm-referenced test compares one students score to a group of other students used as the norm. These tests are given to a group of students first. Their scores become the standard, and other students scores are then measured against the standard. The IOWA test is a norm-referenced test.

What do I need to know about state tests? 
State standards are designed to spell out what is expected from students. States set standards in many subjects such as reading and math. Here is an example of a standard for third graders: The student will be able to add and subtract two-digit numbers. 

What is a percentile rank or score? 
This term is used on norm-referenced tests to show the percentage of other test-takers who scored below the student. If a student scored in the 72nd percentile, she scored better than 72 percent of the students in the norm group. 

What does the term raw score mean?
A raw score is the number of items answered correctly. For example, if a test has 63 items and the student gets 28 items correct, the raw score would be 28. 

Where can I learn more? 
State laws change frequently. For up-to-date information on the testing program in South Carolina, visit our state department of education website at: