Glaser (1963) and Popham and Husek (1969) were the first researchers to draw attention to the
need for criterion-referenced tests, which were to be tests specifically designed to provide score information
in relation to sets of well-defined objectives or competencies. They felt that test score information
referenced to clearly specified domains of content was needed by (1) teachers for successfully
monitoring student progress and diagnosing student instructional needs in objectives-based programs
and by (2) evaluators for determining program effectiveness. Norm-referenced tests were not
deemed appropriate for providing the necessary test score information.
Many definitions of criterion-referenced tests have been offered in the last 10 years (Gray, 1978;
Nitko, 1980). In fact, Gray (1978) reported the existence of 57 different definitions. Popham’s definition,
reported by Hambleton (1981) in a slightly modified form, is probably the most widely used:
A criterion-referenced test is constructed to assess the performance levels of examinees in relation
to a set of well-defined objectives (or competencies).
Hambleton, Ronald K. (1980). Contributions to criterion-referenced testing technology: An introduction. Applied Psychological Measurement, 4, 421-424. doi:10.1177/014662168000400401
Hambleton, Ronald K..
Contributions to criterion-referenced testing technology: An introduction.
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