Norm-referenced test - American Education
Any examination whose score is based on a comparison with the performance of a norm group or sample population. Most standardized tests of aptitude, intelligence and academic achievement are norm-referenced. For example, a score of 500, in a range of 200 to 800 is the norm, or average, for college-bound students taking the SCHOLASTIC ASSESSMENT TESTS, used as an admission examination by many American colleges. It represents no absolute score, however. In any given year, the average absolute score of high school juniors and seniors taking the SATs may rise or fall; regardless of whether the average score is 40%, 50% or any other percentage on an empirical scale, it automatically becomes a 500. Similarly, the highest SAT score of 800 probably has no relationship to a perfect absolute score of 100%, just as 200 probably does not represent a zero.
Norm-referenced tests have come under criticism because of the use of questionable norm groups against which to measure all testtakers. Representatives of minority groups have been especially critical, saying that it is unfair to compare scores of students from sharply different socioeconomic backgrounds with a norm based on a sample made up largely of conventional, advantaged white students. Another criticism of norm-referenced tests is the difficulty of eliminating biased questions that may favor one group or another. Thus, average male verbal scores on the norm-referenced SATs remain stubbornly fixed at more than 1% above those of females, and average mathematical scores remain more than 7% above female scores. The SATs are designed to predict how well students will do academically during their first year at college, but, despite their lower SAT scores, women consistently outperform men in all subjects during their first year at college.
The alternative to norm-referenced tests are criterion-referenced tests that compare scores to an absolute, or empirical, criterion— the specific percentage of correct answers, for example, or a specific score required for passing a driver’s license test.