[Rasch] Re:Urgent question about high stakes and normality

Steven Kramer skramer1958 at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 31 06:23:30 EST 2006

It seems to me that there are two different approaches one could take, depending on two possible reasons that the stakes are high.

SITUATION ONE:  Allocating scarce resources.
If you are trying to identify the top 100 students and give them an award, or choosing among college applicants to select individuals who are accepted into a finite number of places, or something like that, then it makes sense to normalize and combine results.  You are ranking students vs. each other, not vs. students in other years, and Augustin's objections below would not apply.

SITUATION TWO:  Determining whether minimum standards are met
If you are trying to determine whether students are "qualified" vs. some standard, e.g., whether students will receive a diploma, then resources aren't scarce.  It is possible that if everyone does great, everyone should receive a diploma.  In this situation, I fully agree with Augustin's objections below.  In such a case, I'd recommend some kind of criterion-referenced cut-off score in each subject area.  Then, you could use a criterion like "Give the reward if all three subjects are above the minimum cut-off" or "Give the award if at least one of the three is above the minimum cut-off".  You could even have two cutoffs (e.g. "proficient" and "advanced") and establish some flexible combination such as "Give the award if the student is advanced in at least one subject OR if the students is proficient in all three subjects" or "Give the award if the student is advanced in at least one subject AND  proficient in the other two".

Steve Kramer
Math Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Agustin Tristan 
  To: iasonas lambrianou ; Looveer, Juho ; rasch at acer.edu.au 
  Sent: Monday, January 30, 2006 1:50 PM
  Subject: RE: [Rasch] Re:Urgent question about high stakes and normality

  It has been proposed to normalize all the subjects to a mean and st.dev. in such a way that everything is equal: ALL the topics and across the time you will have the same mean and the same st.dev...Which is the mean in math? 50, and history? 50, last year? 50, i can predict that mean in math in 2007 will be 50, as well as the mean in history.
  How can we show improvement or decrease in academic results? 
  Please let us know.

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