Questionmark Conference 2017: Session Description

Track: Applying Best Practices

Title: Set a Fair, Defensible Cut (Passing) Scores

Presenter: Jim Parry, Owner and Chief Executive Manager of Compass Consultants, LLC


The main rationale behind criterion-referenced cutoff scores is that one must be able to distinguish between candidates who can demonstrate sufficient knowledge to be advanced, licensed, or certified and those who cannot. The cutoff score creates two classifications of candidates: those who are competent to perform their duties in a safe and effective/definitive manner and those who may not perform at this level.

The Angoff method defines the cutoff score as the lowest score the minimally acceptable candidate is likely to achieve. Candidates scoring below this level are believed to lack sufficient knowledge, skills, or abilities to be certified. (Moritsch, 2000).

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify various methods of determining a fair, defensible cut score
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each
  • Combine several methods to set an initial cut score and verify its accuracy after sufficient data is gathered
  • Use the Modified Angoff Method to set an initial cut score

Audience Experience Level:

  • Intermediate to advanced

Relevant Job Roles:

  • Test item developers
  • Test/Assessment developers
  • Assessment Program Manager
  • Training Administrators