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The State of Utah uses Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRT’s) for the state and federally mandated testing requirements. A Criterion-Referenced Test is an assessment that is based upon certain criteria, in this case the criteria being the curriculum that has been taught to students. The Curriculum that is used in Utah is called the Common Core Curriculum or Core Curricula. This serves as a framework for the teaching and learning in each subject area; there are Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO’s) within each subject. The assessments are developed to capture how a student is performing across the various Intended Learning Outcomes for each subject.
Students taking the Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRT’s) are given scores in a couple ways. There is a scale score for how well a student performed on the test, the number of questions correct, which shows the content areas of correct and incorrect answers, the range of difficulty and the final scale score. The scale scores then translate into proficiency levels.
The score at which one level moves to the next is called the “cut score.” The levels of proficiency that a student may attain on a Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRT’s) are Minimal, Partial, Sufficient and Substantial.
The Core Curriculum, which has been widely adopted across the United States, speaks to the acquisition of communication skills in the Language Arts and in Mathematics it addresses the educational need for problem solving, reasoning, modeling and the use of analytic tools.
On the English Language Arts Criterion-Referenced Test (CRT) students are testing in areas of phonetical knowledge, vocabulary, reading comprehension, analysis, evaluation, revision and editing processes, and the writing process.
In Mathematics, students are tested in the specific content of their grade level instruction for the elementary and early middle grades, and then specifically in the subjects of pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. The standards in these two subjects, English Language Arts and Mathematics, are expressed in the framework of the Core Curriculum.
The Science Assessment covers grade level material and the subjects of Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These assessments are used to evaluate student achievement and also to strengthen educational practices.