Large Scale Assessments

Types of large-scale assessments

For schools and school districts to adequately assess students’ achievement and growth toward important achievement targets, multiple sources of data are often utilized.  These data sources often include the use of assessments that typically fall into two categories:

Criterion-referenced assessments

Simply put, a Criterion-Referenced assessment is typically an assessment that was developed to assess a student’s mastery of a relatively limited number of achievement targets.

The resulting scores typically include a raw score, or a score indicating the percent of items (skills) the individual got correct in comparison to the total number of items on the assessment.

When interpreting the scores, one is only able to make judgments in relation to a functional performance level (cut score) and not in relation to how others performed on this assessment.

Norm-referenced assessments

In contrast to a Criterion-Referenced Assessment, a Norm-Referenced Assessment is typically an assessment that was developed to assess a student’s performance on a wider sample of content within a specified achievement target.

The results scores typically include a raw score as well as derived scores such as a standard scorepercentile rankNormal Curve Equivalent (NCE), as well as both age and grade equivalents.

When interpreting scores, one is able to make comparisons between the student’s performance with that of other students in a specified reference population of the same age and grade (norm group).

This image depicts a normal distribution which is also sometimes informally known as a normal bell-shaped curve. A normal distribution is an example of a commonly occurring shape for population distributions. Normal distributions are important in statistics and are often used in natural and social sciences to represent real-valued random variables whose distributions are not known. The normal distribution or bell-shaped curve describes a probability distribution where the mean, median and mode are always in the center, and is symmetric meaning half of the points are above the mean and half of the points are below the mean. Additionally, areas under the normal curve are correlated with standard deviations, cumulative percentages, percentiles, Z scores, T scores, Stanines.

Both types of assessments might be considered to be “Standardized Assessments,” meaning they are administered and scored under standard conditions that do not vary between student or time of administration. The structure of these assessments, the resulting scores and the generalizations that can be made upon the interpretation of the results vary greatly.

Large-scale assessments include:


Measures of academic progress (MAP)

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) are state/district-aligned computerized adaptive tests that accurately reflect the instructional level of each student and measure growth over time. Assessments are available for students in grades 3rd through 12th in the academic areas of:

  • Reading
  • Language Usage
  • Math
  • Science

New to the MAP assessment is a Kindergarten through 2nd-grade assessment that measures skills in the areas of early literacy and numeracy.

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