What Does “Standardization” Mean?

Standardization means that whenever the test is given the content, conditions, scoring, etc., have to be as close to the same for every person. Standardized tests are ordinarily objective tests with questions such as “true” or “false” and contain no essays. To standardize a test, the test has to be given over time to many people, and the results have to be studied by experts. Then revisions are made to improve the test. The test is then given again and the whole process repeats itself until test results prove to be unvarying and average scores or norms have been verified.

Scoring for standardized tests has very specific instructions that must be followed so that any person scoring a test will come up with the same score as anyone else who scores the same test. Scoring is interpreted in comparison to an established “norm” or average for a similar group of people. For example, intelligence tests are scored against the average intelligence of “100.” So, if you score above 100, you are considered above average in intelligence, and if you score below 100, you are rated as below average. Norms are created when a test is in the process of being designed. The test is given to a large sample population with similar characteristics. The sample population scores are added up and then divided by the number of people who took the test—that number becomes the average score, or “norm.” But it's not as easy as it sounds. Standardized tests are designed, norms are established, and scores are interpreted by using complex statistical methods.

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