Glossary

Content Standards. Content standards are broad expectations of what students should know, understand and be able to do at a particular grade level in a certain subject. Math content standards describe the knowledge base of a mathematically literate populace.

Criterion (Criteria). A criterion specifies the attributes of successful or meritorious performance. The term criteria is often interchangeable with rubrics, scoring guidelines, and scoring rubrics.

Criterion-Referenced Approach. A criterion-referenced approach in assessment is used to estimate how much of the content and skills covered have been acquired by the individuals assessed. Performance is judged against a set of criteria rather than in comparison to other individuals tested, as with norm-referenced tests.

Declarative Knowledge. Declarative knowledge is factual or conceptual knowledge.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). The NCTM Standards are mathematics education content standards for grades K-12 developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to provide curricular and assessment guidance to mathematics teaching practitioners throughout the United States.

National Science Education Standards (NSES). The National Science Education Standards are science education content standards for grades K-12 developed by the National Committee on Science Education to provide curricular and assessment guidance to science teaching practitioners throughout the United States.

Norm-Referenced Approach. A norm-referenced approach in assessment is used to estimate how the individuals being assessed compare to other individuals in terms of performance on the test. Individual performance is judged in comparison to other individuals tested, rather than against a set of criteria, as with criterion-referenced tests.

Overall Task Content Area. The overall task content area is the general subject matter covered by the task (e.g., Science - Physical Science, Science - Life Science etc.; Mathematics - Algebra, Mathematics – Geometry etc.).

Performance Assessment. Performance assessment "requires students to actively accomplish complex and significant tasks, while bringing to bear prior knowledge, recent learning and relevant skills to solve realistic or authentic problems" (Herman, et al., 1992, p. 2).

Performance Expectations. Performance expectations are task-specific statements that describe what students should do during an assessment.

Procedural Knowledge. Procedural knowledge is knowledge about how to do something.

Reliability. Reliability is the degree to which an assessment or instrument consistently measures an attribute.

Inter-rater Reliability. Inter-rater reliability is the degree to which an assessment yields similar results for the same individual at the same time with more than one rater.

Test-Retest Reliability. Test-retest reliability is the degree to which an assessment yields similar results from one testing occasion to another in the absence of intervening growth or instruction.

Response Mode. The response mode is the technique by which the individual being assessed indicates responses to items (e.g., giving an oral reply, drawing a chart, keying in the answer on a computer keyboard, pointing at the computer screen, writing an essay, filling in a bubble on an answer sheet, putting a checkmark in front of the correct answer, circling a rating).

Rubric. A rubric is the guide used to score performance assessments in a reliable, fair, and valid manner and is generally composed of dimensions for judging student performance, a scale for rating performances on each dimension, and standards of excellence for specified performance levels.

Analytic Scoring. Analytic scoring provides separate scores for multiple dimensions of student work. Analytic scoring allows for more specific and detailed feedback than holistic scoring. Typically, four- to six-point scales are used to score each dimension of student work.

Generic Rubric. A generic rubric provides general scoring guidelines that can be used for multiple tasks.

Holistic Scoring. Holistic scoring reflects an overall impression of student work and is typically based on a four- to six-point scale indicating specified performance levels. Holistic scoring may be task-specific or generic.

Task-specific Rubric. A task-specific rubric provides scoring guidelines that are only appropriate for a particular task.

Specific Knowledge Area. The specific knowledge area is the particular subject matter covered by the assessment (e.g., science - properties of matter; mathematics – numbers and operations).

Targets. Targets are goal statements about expectations for student performance. They specify the knowledge and understanding to be attained and ground all of the decisions concerning the type of assessment, the task design, and the scoring of the exercise. Four types of targets are discussed in this Web site: knowledge targets, reasoning targets, skill targets and product targets.

Knowledge Targets. Knowledge targets focus on the attainment of declarative knowledge (i.e., concepts, generalizations, facts about individuals and events) and procedural knowledge (i.e., steps for solving problems).

Product Targets. Product targets focus on the development of quality products such as papers, lab reports or presentations.

Reasoning Targets. Reasoning targets focus on problem-solving, reasoning, and analyzing arguments.

Skill Targets. Skill targets focus on the attainment of certain behaviors or skills (e.g., using lab equipment properly).

Task. A performance assessment task allows students to effectively create a sample product or performance that can be observed and judged. Tasks contain information about the administration procedures (e.g., task time, materials, safety concerns), written instructions to help students demonstrate mastery of the skills that will be assessed, and questions to assess student learning.

Validity. Validity in assessment refers to the extent to which test scores or responses measure the attributes they were intended to measure and have the impact that was sought.


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