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The setting of cut scores is a specific and precise way of establishing a standard of performance for a test. Standard setting is defined as a process of determining the point on a test’s score scale used to establish whether a particular test score is sufficient for some purpose, but it’s also the primary test development activity where psychometrics, content, and policy intertwine. Determining the point at which student performance is “good enough” involves a policy directive, understanding of the content, and an evaluation of the reliability and psychometric difficulty of the individual items or of the test as a whole.

Although some have referred to standard setting as “alchemy” given that it relies on human judgment, it is a process that allows policy to ...

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