A standard-setting study produces a passing-score recommendation. A passing score is the minimum test score that a test taker needs to pass the particular licensure test and be awarded a license to teach. Each state sets its own passing score. ETS does not set passing scores; that is the licensing agencies' responsibility.
Standard-setting studies serve two purposes. First, they are designed to identify the level of knowledge for a teacher candidate to be considered minimally qualified for independent, beginning practice. The level of knowledge is represented by a minimum test score that candidates need to achieve. Second, the studies are designed to reconfirm the relevance (validity) of the test content for teachers in the adopting state.
Different standard-setting approaches are used for different test structures. In other words, there is a preferred standard-setting method for multiple-choice (MC) test items and another for constructed-response (CR) test items. ETS recommends and implements a modified Angoff method for MC items and a Benchmark method for CR items. One or more ETS standard-setting specialists conduct and facilitate each standard-setting study. For each study, a technical report is produced that describes the selection and representativeness of the participants involved and summarizes the standard-setting methods and results.
Multistate Standard-Setting Studies
The ETS Multistate Standard-Setting Study (MSSS) process assists states when new and regenerated tests require new passing scores. This approach, designed by ETS researchers, convenes practitioner panels to recommend a passing score for states to consider. The panels simulate a test-taking experience prior to recommending a passing score. The panels also confirm that the content is important and relevant to entry-level practice.
State-Specific Standard-Setting Studies
When a state chooses to adopt a test, the state either conducts a state-specific standard-setting study or participates in a multistate standard-setting study. The state-specific study is conducted when the test is used only in that particular state, or when a state is considering adopting an existing test and there are no other states considering adopting the test at that time. The MSSS is used when multiple states are considering adopting a particular test title. Both kinds of standard-setting studies include ETS convening panels of licensed practicing educators and college faculty from user states to conduct standard-setting studies. Each standard-setting panel confirms that the knowledge and/or skills represented in the test content specifications are important for entry-level practice and recommends a passing score for the state(s) to consider when setting its own passing score.
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