Testing glossary

The Research, Assessment, & Accountability Department has put together the following Glossary of Assessment Terms to assist the GISD community.

Assessment is the process of systematically collecting information about students or educational programs in order to make educational decisions. The process includes, but is not limited to, gathering, describing, and quantifying information; providing feedback about progress; and evaluating instructional effectiveness.

Benchmarks are descriptions of standards of information and skills that students should know and/or be able to perform at developmentally appropriate levels in their education. Acting as "checkpoints," benchmarks are used to monitor student performance progress within and across grade levels.

Criterion-referenced tests
Criterion-referenced tests measure a student's performance in order to determine what a student can do and what they know, reporting this information relative to predetermined standards. Predetermined standards can be based on curricular objectives, skills, or content area knowledge. This type of assessment does not compare students.

Norm-referenced tests
Norm-referenced tests compare the achievement performance of single students with the performance of a representative sample, usually a national sample. The purpose of norm-referenced tests are to rank order student achievement across a continuum.

Score types

Percent correct
This score represents the proportion of items that a student correctly answered in relation to the overall questions; for example, if a student correctly answered 13 items on a test with 18 questions, the percent correct would be 72%

Percentile/percentile rank
A statistical measure that indicates a student's performance level relative to another group of students; for example, if a student's score is in the 88th percentile, the student's score is higher than 88% of the students in the comparison group

A numerical value that represents the level at which a score demonstrates a satisfactory performance level; i.e., proficiency standards are often set at 70%, meaning that a student that earned a percent correct of 70% or higher is proficient by demonstrating satisfactory performance

Progress measure
A measure about the amount of improvement, or growth, that a student has made in a subject area; typically associated with STAAR reading and mathematics results

Raw score
A student's actual test performance as measured by the number of items correctly answered

RIT score
An equal interval horizontal scale score associated with the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test that makes it possible to measure student performance at a point in time and then make comparisons to prior testing opportunities to determine change/growth

Scale score
The conversion of a student's raw score on a test to a "common scale" that allows for comparisons to be made between students, performance levels, and other tests

Standardized assessments are designed to be administered under specific, standard conditions, resulting in a uniformity in testing environments and administration procedures. Standardization allows for the testing conditions to be equal for all test takers, enabling statistical comparison against the norm or criteria.