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 test taker to be considered minimally qualified for independent, beginning practice. The level of knowledge is represented by a minimum test score that test takers 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 selected-response (SR) test items and another for constructed-response (CR) test items. ETS recommends and implements a modified Angoff method for SR 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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