Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Those Pesky Performance Standards

I am never failed to be amazed by the discussions my colleagues and I engage in regarding what psychometricians call "standard setting". The essence of standard setting is to determine "how much is enough" regarding the performance on some measure, and to do so in a less than capricious manner (still arbitrary, but not capricious).

Nevertheless, rooms filled with content experts, testing experts, psychometricians (some of whom are experts), standard setting experts, and others engage in countless banter regarding how to plan for, control, and analyze the data resulting from (or going into) a standard setting as if the data was anything less than an arbitrary (though often not capricious) judgment.

Perhaps I am finally too old to enjoy such arbitrary distinctions anymore. Understand that I am not saying that standard setting is not important, that the established procedures should not be used or that we should not carefully plan and implement the standard setting in the best way possible following standards of best practice. I think all of this should be done. I am just not sure all of the research and rhetoric using the results or outcomes of such judgmental procedures are worth the efforts they require to discuss.

One person's opinion...of course.

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