The difference between Criterion and Norm-referenced testing is mainly the way in which the data is analyzed and used after getting the scores back.
The NRT (Norm-Referenced Test) takes the information produced by the student data and compares the performance of the student with that of other test takers that have already taken that same test.
- That group of students is called the "norm" group, which could also be considered as a form of "control" group.
- The scores of NRTs are often presented in percentages or percentiles.
- It is mostly a placement and comparison type of testing. An example of an NRT is the SAT.
Criterion-Referenced tests (CRTs) are tests that determines the mastery of the student in a specific skill. The skill is what is referred to as the "criterion."
- Since these tests seek for mastery, they are often given to people seeking a specific licensure, certification, or endorsement for which the CRT data will show the mastery on a specific skill.
- Scores are reported as pass/fail, and not in percentiles.
- Cut offs for pass/fail scores are determined by test administrators.
- An example of a CRT is the Washington State MSPs (Measurement of Student Progress) which was used to comply with NCLB.