The process of determination of the minimum pass level for separating the competent and incompetent students is termed as the standard setting. Multiple methods are commonly used for setting cut-scores for clinical and written examinations. Some challenging issues come up pertaining to the standard setting procedure and these concerns are to be sorted out in order to avoid confusion regarding whether the pass marks for the assessment are correct. For supporting the defensibility and credibility of the scores, it is important that a standard setting procedure is supported and well evaluated by suitable documents (De Champlain 2014).
According to Hejri and Jalili (2014) student assessment is a vital part of educational programs. Standard setting is an area that needs the attention of all educationists in order to enable it to drive the learning process of a medical student. The decision of failing or pass for an examinee is a crucial concern in medical education, due to licensure and credentialing reasons. The standard must therefore not be set on an arbitrary basis. It must be established through a particular methodology considering the objectives of the examination and content areas of the examination. The performance of the examinees and the wider educational setting and the social setting also need to be considered while setting up the standard. A number of methods have been developed that be used for setting the standard of clinical and written examination. The standard setting procedure has to be either norm-referenced or criterion-referenced. In the case of norm-referenced standard setting, a fixed proportion of the examinees needs to pass. In such case, the ability of the cohort of the students must be documented. In such case, possibility lies that some competent students also might fail in the examination. In the case of the criterion-referenced method, like the borderline regression, the desirable competency level for all students that need to be achieved are to be documented.
One criterion of setting a standard are to have a proper documentation of the borderline students and their capabilities. Judgements are to be done beforehand regarding which students have borderline performance and estimation of their performance. Understanding of these students would prove to be fundamental to the standard setting process. In this regard, an evaluation of the average students is also needed. This would lead to substitution of a criterion-based concept with one that is norm-referenced. Another criterion are the nature and number of judges. Judges may be deciding on different cut scores as a result of distinct differences in professional role, educational background, and socioeconomic conditions. Variations in their experience, opinions and knowledge would also lead to such variations. The age, gender, educational experience and ethnicity are to be documented. These differences are to sorted out, and the best method is to document all the details of the judges and then comparing their applicability in the process of setting the standards. The exact number of panellist may differ, and there has to be a certain rule followed for considering the appropriate number of judges for including different viewpoints and for generating acceptable results (Jalili and Mortazhejri 2012).
De Champlain, A.F., 2014. Standard setting methods in medical education. Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory and Practice, pp.305-316.
Hejri, S.M. and Jalili, M., 2014. Standard setting in medical education: fundamental concepts and emerging challenges. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28, p.34.
Jalili, M. and Mortazhejri, S., 2012. Standard Setting for Objective Structured Clinical Exam Using Four Methods: Pre-fixed score, Angoff, Borderline Regression and Cohen’s. Strides in Development of Medical Education, 9(1), pp.77-84.