Setting Performance Standards: Concepts, Methods, and Perspectives

Setting Performance Standards: Concepts, Methods, and Perspectives

Setting Performance Standards: Concepts, Methods, and Perspectives

Setting Performance Standards: Concepts, Methods, and Perspectives

Synopsis

This book provides the most up-to-date and definite source of information currently available on setting performance standards. Chapters are grouped by common themes and provide diverse readers--educators, researchers, and policymakers-- ready access to the specific aspects of standard setting that interest them. Part I presents perspectives on the nature and role of standard setting, focusing primarily on theoretical concerns. Part II provides practical details on various methods of standard setting and addresses such problems as how to identify and train participants in the standard-setting process. Part III covers the lingering dilemmas in standard setting that perplex theorists and practitioners. By design, this book reflects the key aspects that dominate standard setting today and which are likely to do so in the coming years. Overall, it provides practitioners, scholars, and policymakers with the tools and perspectives that might fruitfully be applied to the challenges of standard setting today and to the unknown challenges that lie ahead.

Excerpt

It is surely more than a personal conviction to assert that a book on standard setting is sorely needed. Standard setting is routinely and frequently performed today in contexts as diverse as elementary and secondary school pupil proficiency testing to licensure for piloting aircraft, driving automobiles, selling real estate, dispensing drugs, or performing retinal surgery. In countries around the world, standard setting is a ubiquitous scientifically and socially informed activity that touches the lives of nearly all human beings in ways that can significantly alter their personal social, psychological, and economic courses.

For such an important enterprise, the field of standard setting has experienced hypertrophic development, growing from relative obscurity to a primary, public, and potent pursuit in nearly all contexts in which standards are set. A number of knowledgeable sources trace standard setting to Biblical accounts of the Gilead guards, China's civil service examinations of 200 B.C., even Chinese military selection dating to 2000 B.C. Whatever the roots, standard setting appears to have plodded along for centuries. As late as 1970, it was not controversial to set a standard using norm-referenced methods, which assured that, for example, 20% of a group of examinees would fail, not receive a license or credential, or not be selected for a special program. The 20% standard would be enforced across dozens of administrations of a test, blissfully oblivious to possible variation in the average capabilities of the groups being tested. As an area . . .

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