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A level pass rates and the enduring myth of norm-referencing

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Newton, Paul 


This article defines norm-referencing (the level of attainment of a particular student in relation to the level of attainment of all other students who sat the same examination); criterion-referencing (identifying exactly what students can and cannot do in each sub-domain of the subject being examined); and attainment-referencing (judging students on the basis of their overall level of attainment in the curriculum area being examined). It argues that A levels have never been norm-referenced or criterion-referenced but have always been attainment-referenced. This is counter to the mythology of A level examining, in which standards were norm-referenced from the 1960s to the middle of the 1980s, after which they became criterion-referenced.



A Level/AS Level, Standards, Comparability

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Research Matters

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Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

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