Norm-referenced tests allow us to compare a student's skills to others in his age group. Norm-referenced tests are developed by creating the test items and then administering the test to a group of students that will be used as the basis of comparison. Statistical methods are used to determine how raw scores will be interpreted and what performance levels are assigned to each score. Many tests yield standard scores, which allow comparison of the student's scores to other tests. They answer questions such as, "does the student's achievement score appear consistent with his cognitive score?" The degree of difference between those two scores might suggest or rule out a learning disability.
After the norming process, the tests are used to assess groups of students or individuals using standardized, or highly structured, administration procedures. These students' performance is rated using scales developed during the norming process.
Educators use norm-reference tests to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programs, to help determine students' preparedness for programs, and to determine diagnosis of disabilities for eligibility for IDEA special education programs or adaptations and accommodations under Section 504.