How are item answers turned into Standards-Based Scores?

This article explains how answers to online test events are turned into standards-based scores. Each assessment item is associated with one or more learning targets and a corresponding complexity per learning target. For more information on complexity, see What are the different levels of complexity on an assessment item?.

After a pool of assessment items with various levels of complexity has been created, an assessment test can be created. The test event can be administered online, and students’ assessment item answers will be converted into standards-based scores for each learning target covered. The scores depend on the complexity of the assessment items as well as the percentage of assessment items that they answer correctly.

 sbg_grading_scale.PNG

In the case of the scale above, the complexity options will be:

  • 4 - Exceeds
  • 3 - Proficient
  • 2 - Developing
  • 1 - Beginning

The maximum standards-based score a student can receive is determined by the complexity of the assessment items in the test event. For example, using the scale above, if the highest complexity for a learning target in an assessment test is 2, then the highest standards-based score a student can receive for that learning target is a 2. In order to receive this 2, a student must answer at least 75% of assessment items with both a complexity of 1 and a complexity of 2 for that learning target correctly. In other words, in order to receive a certain score, a student must answer more than 75% of assessment items of that complexity, as well as 75% of assessment items of each lower complexity, correctly.

An exception to this rule is that, if a student fails to answer more than 75% of assessment items of the lowest complexity correctly, they will still receive that lowest complexity as a score.

It is recommended that assessment tests include many questions from each complexity to avoid certain issues from arising. For example, imagine an assessment test that covers one learning target. It has 20 assessment items with a complexity of 4, 10 assessments items with a complexity of 3, and 3 assessment items with a complexity of 1.

There are a few problems with this exam. One problem is that there are no assessment items with a complexity of 2. If a student missed three complexity 3 items on this exam, they would earn a score of 1; there is no way for a student to earn a score of 2. Another problem is that if they miss even one complexity 1 assessment item, they will fail complexity 1 and automatically get a score of 1, even if they get every other item correct. By including many questions from each complexity in an assessment, both of these problems can be avoided.

For more information on how instructors enter scores, see How does an instructor score an assessment?

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