Criterion-Referenced Test - Definition & Meaning

A criterion-referenced test is an assessment designed to measure a student's performance against specific predetermined criteria or learning standards. It focuses on evaluating individual proficiency and determining the extent to which students have mastered specific knowledge, skills, or competencies.

Unlike norm-referenced tests that compare students' performance to that of their peers, criterion-referenced tests provide information about how well students have achieved specific learning objectives or standards. The criteria or standards are typically established in advance, reflecting what students should know and be able to do at a particular stage of their education.

Criterion-referenced tests assess whether students have reached a predefined level of proficiency rather than ranking them relative to their peers. They provide detailed feedback to students, teachers, and parents about strengths and areas for improvement, helping to inform instruction and guide further learning.

Criterion-referenced tests are commonly used in educational settings to measure individual achievement, diagnose learning needs, and determine eligibility for advancement or certification. They are often aligned with curriculum standards or learning outcomes and may be administered at various points throughout the academic year.

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