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Although the specification of criteria in evaluation is well developed, there is much mystery associated with standard setting. The key question for standard setting is how to distinguish defensibly between evaluands that share a particular attribute or characteristic to varying degrees. Standard setting is socially desirable and is a necessity in credentialing professionals, certifying services, labeling safe products, and equitably distributing resources. Even in cases where a clear and exact standard is set, such as in setting cut scores on tests, the process is inexact, and even when sophisticated empirical strategies are used, standard setting is, at its root, a value judgment based on sociopolitical concerns. The quality of the judgment about what constitutes an appropriate standard or level of performance is determined as much ...

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