Scoring and Analyzing Tests
After administering a test, the teacher’s responsibility is to score it or arrange to have it scored. The teacher then interprets the results and uses these interpretations to make grading, selection, placement, or other decisions. To accurately interpret test scores, however, the teacher needs to analyze the performance of the test as a whole and of the individual test items, and to use these data to draw valid inferences about student performance. This information also helps faculty prepare for posttest discussions with students about the exam. This chapter discusses the processes of obtaining scores and performing test and item analysis. It also suggests ways in which teachers can use posttest discussions to contribute to student learning and seek student feedback that can lead to test item improvement.
Many teachers say that they “grade” tests, when in fact it would be more accurate to say that they “score” tests. Scoring is the process of determining the first direct, unconverted, uninterpreted measure of performance on a test, usually called the raw score or observed score. The raw score represents the number of correct answers or number of points awarded to separate parts of an assessment (Nitko, 2004, p. 385). On the other hand, grading or marking is the process of assigning a symbol to represent the quality of the student’s performance. Symbols can be letters (A, B, C, D, F, which may also include + and −); categories (passfail, satisfactory-unsatisfactory); integers (9 through 1); or percentages (100, 99, 98 …), among other options (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2003). In most cases, test scores should not be converted to grades for the purpose of later computing a final average grade. Instead the teacher should record actual test scores and then