References for Setting Cut Scores

I’ve been asked by several organizations to recommend a methodology for setting a cut score that would meet accreditation standards. It sounds like a simple request, but it isn’t. You need to consider the type of test you have (e.g., multiple choice versus performance), the target population, and who should be making the cut score decision. The standards are not prescriptive and assessors are not supposed to be prescriptive either! Many certification organizations would prefer to conduct the study themselves. If you are in that boat, there are several books that have come out recently that can give you direction.

1. Certification: The ICE Handbook (2009, published by the Institute for Ceredentialing Excellence), Edited by Joan Knapp, PhD, Lynn Anderson, PhD, and Cheryl Wild, PhD. See chapter 11 by I. Leon Smith, PhD, and Cornelia Springer , CAE on standard setting.   (Includes results of a 2008 survey on what standard setting method is most frequently used to set cut scores by NCCA accredited organizations!)

2.  Cutscores: A Manual for Setting Standards of Performance on Educational and Occupational Tests (2008, published by Educational Testing Service) by Michael J. Zieky, Marianne Perie, and Samuel A. Livingston.  (This is a how to do it manual aimed at people who plan and run a cut score study. The sample forms in the appendix are useful.)

3.  Standard Setting: A Guide to Establishing and Evaluating Performance Standards on Tests (2007, Sage Publications, Inc.) by Gregory J. Cizek and Michael Bunch. (More theoretical than the other two references, this book is aimed at people who plan, run, oversee, or make decisions about standard setting studies.)

About Cheryl Wild

Dr. Cheryl Wild is President and founder of Wild & Associates, Inc. Dr. Wild helps organizations improve their performance, using her expertise in process improvement, problem solving, outcome assessment, measurement and evaluation.

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