Best Practices for Setting Placement Cut Scores in Postsecondary Education. An NCPR Working PaperReportar como inadecuado

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National Center for Postsecondary Research, Paper prepared for the NCPR Developmental Education Conference (New York, NY, Sep 23-24, 2010)

Cut scores are used in a variety of circumstances to aid in decision making through the establishment of a clear cut line between adjacent categories. Community colleges regularly use cut scores on placement tests to decide the appropriate course for each beginning student: the first college-level course or a developmental course, depending on student test performance. This initial placement decision sets the stage for the student's college career and must be made in the most defensible manner possible to withstand any challenges that may arise. This paper provides a broad overview of important considerations in the generic standard setting process. Specific standard setting methods are only touched upon briefly, but many commonalities in actions and processes exist among the various standard setting methods. This paper covers both actions and processes at a level that is accessible to the non-psychometric layman with only a basic understanding of assessment. The paper also provides an overview of the key elements to consider in choosing a placement test, for which the cut scores are implemented and provides case studies. Placement decisions can only be as good as the instrument and cut scores upon which they are based. Areas for potential placement testing research are also provided. (Contains 2 figures and 6 footnotes.)

Descriptors: Standard Setting (Scoring), Cutting Scores, Psychometrics, Best Practices, Postsecondary Education, Decision Making, Community Colleges, Student Placement, College Students, Standard Setting, Case Studies, Diagnostic Tests, Test Validity, Test Reliability

National Center for Postsecondary Research. Teachers College, Columbia University, Box 174, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail: ncpr[at]; Web site:

Autor: Morgan, Deanna L.


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