Methods of interpreting test scores by Dr.Shazia Zamir
Methods of Interpreting Test Scores
(Grade Norms )
Grading, like testing, is necessary
procedure; the progress and
achievement of students must be
reported to parents and other, and
grading serves this purpose.
Definition and Purpose
A grade is an alphabetical and numerical
symbol, or mark, that indicates the
degree to which intended outcomes have
The major purpose of grades is to
communicate how well a student is doing
in the various subject areas.
Another purpose often attributed grades is
that they serve as a motivator for student’s
Grades also serve as an indication of
achievement to be expected in the future;
past performance is the best single
predictor of future performance.
The major objection is that there is
considerable variability in the meaning of
a given grade; further, there are so many
different methods of grading and diversity
of symbols that is difficult to interpret
exactly what a given set of grades means.
A second serious charge made by
opponents of grading is that it is
basically an inhuman process with
many negative effects; some parents
and teacher use them negatively and
the pressures on students can produce
negative behaviors as a result.
As for the pressure grades place on
students, it can be argued that a
reasonable amount of pressure leads to
increase the achievement.
General principles of grading
Grades should be based on a sufficient
amount of valid data systematically
collected over a period of time.
Any given test represents a sampling of
behavior; thus, a grade based on a
combination of a number of test score is
more likely accurately reflect a student’s
achievement level than a grade based
on a single test score.
Students should know in advance which
grades “count” and which do not, and
should be informed concerning how
final grades will be determined and on
A final grade may be based on a
combination of any number of factors
such as written tests and various
procedures and products.
Grading is usually done on relative
basis; that is, achievement is labeled as
“good” or “poor” in relation to the
performance of the total group.
Grading represents a complex
combination of achievement and effort;
achievement is assessed partly in
relation to objective standards and partly
in relation to performance of other
Methods of grading
Users of grades, such as admission
personnel and employers, invariably prefer
norm-referenced, relative grading systems.
Percent grading involves averaging scores
and converting them to a percent.
The percent itself may be reported as the
grade, e.g., History, 84%, or the percent
may be translated into a letter grade
equivalent (e.g., A=94-100%).
Norms provide a useful frame of
reference for interpreting test scores.
Determining whether a candidate's
score is high or low is made possible
by comparing his or her score to the
scores obtained by other examinees in
a relevant group. This comparison can
be "built-in" by converting raw scores
to percentile scores.
Norm-referenced grading involves rank
ordering students and expressing a
given student’s in relation to the
achievement of the rest of the class; in
essence, the rest of the class; in
essence, the rest of the class serves
as the norm group.
A norm-referenced grade does not
communicate what a student has
actually achieved but rather how a
student’s achievement compared to
the achievement of others in the class.
Criterion-referenced grading involves
expressing a student’s achievement in
relation to pre-specified rather than
the achievement of others in the class.
Available evidence indicates that a pass-
fail system usually results in a reduction
of achievement levels; quite naturally,
students are less motivated to do well in
such courses and devote most of their
energies to those courses in which they
will receive a letter grade.
Pass-fail grading does not fulfill any of
the purposes of grading—
communication, motivation, and
Types of grading symbols
The most commonly used alphabetical norm-
referenced symbols are the letter grades A, B, C,
D, and E (or F) and P and F (for pass and fail);
the most commonly used numerical symbols are
percents (e.g., 80%, 90%, 100%).
Alternative to grading
Grades are sometimes supplemented by
checklists, rankings, and reports of
The two frequently suggested substitutes
for grades are letters, or written reports,
and parent-teacher conferences.