SCORE REPORT INFORMATION
Guide to Understanding NLN Score Reports
The NLN Score Report
Types of Scores that May Be Reported
Comprehensive Achievement Tests
Nursing Acceleration Challenge Exams (NACE) I and II
In most instances, NLN Achievement Tests are not intended to determine pass/fail status or final grades, but rather to help users to evaluate the effectiveness with which they are meeting the objectives of similar educational programs as defined by representatives of those programs throughout the country. The NLN does not suggest “”acceptable” scores. It is recommended that each program study the performance of its students in terms of the national norms and in terms of its own educational objectives. On tests for which more than one set of percentile norms is provided, it is expected that faculty members will find it most useful to compare the performance of their students with that of students in the same type of program.
The NLN Score Report
The score report represents the following items to aid the interpretation of test scores.
- Test for which results are being reported, identified by name and code number
- Identification of the types of programs and the number of examinees on whose performance the norms are based
- Norms Period, specifying the time during which those included in the norms groups were tested
- Testing Date, specifying month/day/year on which the test was administered
- Report Date, specifying month/day/year on which the report was prepared
- The name, address, and code number for the Reporting School (i.e., the institution to which the report is directed)
- NLN Order Number
TYPES OF SCORES THAT MAY BE REPORTED
The raw score reported is generally the number of questions the student answered correctly.
In tests with subscores, the raw scores of each part add up to the raw score of the total test, although there are a few exceptions. If the sum of the raw subscores is less than the total, it means that certain items in the test that contribute to the total score do not logically fall into any of the subscore categories reported. In those cases, a student's raw scores on the subscores may or may not add up to the total score, depending on how many of the items not classified by the subtest were correctly answered.
Each percentile score indicates the percent of the norms group who received raw scores lower than the raw score the student received. For example, a student might have a total raw score of 97, with an equivalent percentile of 73. This would mean that 73 percent of the students in the norm group received raw scores less than 97 on that test.
Percentile of Subscores
The percentile scores for the total test are NOT equal to the sum of the subscore percentiles, nor are they an average of the subscore percentiles. For example, it is possible for a student to obtain a total raw score at the 88th percentile on a test and obtain subscores that fall at the 86th percentile for the same norms group.
A percentage score indicates the percent of items in that subscore that the student answered correctly. For example, if a subscore contains 39 items, and a student answers 26 of them correctly, the students percentage score for that subscore would be 67 percent. Note that this score does not include any reference to other students performance on this subscore; it only refers to the number of items in the subscore which the particular student answered correctly.
When interpreting the student’s score on a subscore, it is best to remember that the fewer items in a subscore, the larger the change in percentage score produced by a one-point change in raw score. For example, suppose a subscore includes 20 items. A single point change in the raw score will result in a change of five points in the percentage score. In a 50 item subscore, an increase or decrease of one point in the raw score will result in a change of two points in the percentage score.
A standard score is a transformation of the raw score earned, and expresses the distance of an individual raw score above or below the average raw score of the norms group. Where the norms group remains unchanged, standard scores are comparable from test to test, although raw scores are not.
A normalized percentile score is the percentile equivalent (i.e., the percent of the norms group who received a raw score lower than the one in question) to a given standard score, if and only if, the scores on that test were normally distributed. The actual percentile would vary as the distribution of test scores increasingly departs from normality. Normalized percentiles sometimes appear on reports with standard scores.
ACHIEVEMENT TESTS IN SPECIFIC CONTENT AREAS
A class report includes the names of students who are covered by the report in the first column, followed by the “Class/Group Mean” and “Max Score Possible.” In the other column(s), beside each student's name, are the raw scores and associated percentiles for each score derived from the test (total score and any subscores). If the percentiles based on the performance of more than one group are provided, identifying headings are presented at the top of the percentile columns; no such headings appear if only one set of percentiles is reported. The number of students covered by the report is recorded at the end of the report.
The raw score equivalent to the Class or Group Mean is obtained by averaging the raw scores of all the persons named on the report. The percentiles reported for the Class or Group Mean are those equivalent to the average raw score (it is inappropriate to average percentiles, since the percentile of the average score is different from the average of the percentile scores).
Max Score Possible
The maximum raw score possible on each test is the total number of scored items in that test. The percentile equivalent to the maximum score possible is 99.
Analysis of Responses
An analysis of the students’ responses follows the class report for each test for which the performance of 10 or more individuals is reported. Each test item contributing to a reported score is listed by total score or by subscore, if provided. Beside the item number are given the number of students in the class who answered the question correctly, the number who answered the question incorrectly, and the number who omitted the question. The item descriptors, which provide a short description of each item, aid in the interpretation of this report. If subscores are reported for a test, no such analysis is provided for the total score, unless there are some items contributing to the total score that are not included in any of the subscores. This analysis is not provided with experimental tests. (Occasionally an item in a printed test is found to be no longer appropriate for scoring. Should this occur, examinees are not penalized for their responses to that item.)
A list of statements that describe the main focus of each item in a given test is now included with the with the NLN Achievement Test reports. These lists may be used in combination with the analysis of incorrect and omitted responses described above to assess more accurately an individual student’s performance, and may be a useful base for class discussion. To safeguard test security, it is recommended that faculty NOT distribute them to students.
When you evaluate your class or conduct an individual student item analysis, use the item descriptors provided along with the enclosed test reports. These item descriptors provide a general description of the topic pertaining to the items that your class or student missed. Although you can no longer match a missed item to a specific question in the test booklet itself, the item descriptors provide sufficient direction to assist in the question-by-question diagnostic use of the exam.
COMPREHENSIVE ACHIEVEMENT TESTS
Individual Student Report
An individual score report is provided for each student who takes a Comprehensive Achievement Test. The student’s name, testing date, and total test score are shown on the upper portion of the page. The student’s performance on the subscores included in the test is listed directly below. Further information about the test and norms group (e.g., the standard score mean, the standard deviation, and the standard error of measurement) is found at the bottom of the student score report. (Refer to the paragraph below under Nursing Acceleration Challenge Exams (NACE) for a discussion of the standard error of measurement.)
Total Test Score
The total test score may be a raw score, a standard score, or a percent-correct score and is defined at the bottom of the score report.
The student’s performance on the test's subscores are reported as advisory scores. The Advisory Score reports the percentage of items in any given subscore that the student answered correctly. For example, if a subscore contains 20 items, and a student answered 10 of them correctly, the Advisory Score would be reported as 50 percentof 20. To the right of each line is the Median % Correct in the norms group. The Median % Correct indicates the items in that subscore answered correctly by 50 percent of the norms group.
In addition to the individual student reports, each school is sent a class summary report, an analysis of item responses item descriptors, and a listing of incorrectly answered and omitted items for each examinee. These reports are described in the section for Achievement Tests in Specific Content Areas.
The Comprehensive Nursing Achievement Tests for both RN and PN students are designed primarily to assist students at the completion of their nursing programs to assess areas of strength as well as areas of weakness which require further study in accordance of NCLEX test blueprints. The Comprehensive Nursing Achievement Test for Baccalaureate Nursing Students may provide some direct assistance in program evaluation through careful review of test performance of graduating seniors. Analysis of class summary reports along with the summary of student responses and item descriptors may point up areas of strength or weakness within the program. This test should be used in conjunction with self-study and review of other evaluative data. Faculty may find that their graduating seniors do well, on the average, in one or more of the subscores reported. However, exceptional group performance in all categories is much more difficult to achieve and, indeed, is unlikely because of the wide variation found in philosophy and curricula.
NURSING ACCELERATION CHALLENGE EXAMINATIONS (NACE) I and II
Individual Student Report
A score report is provided for each part of NACE an examinee takes. Two copies of the report are provided: one for the program that administered the examination and one for the examinee. The report provides the examinee’s name, test date, normative group information, decision score, and advisory scores.
The Decision Score is based upon the student’s total test score. For NACE II, it is a standard score of 100 and the standard deviation is 20 for all examinees in that norms group. Most scores will range from 50 to 150. For NACE I, the total percentage of questions answered correctly is reported as the decision score. This score, therefore, ranges from 0 to 100. Accompanying the decision score is its Standard Error of Measurement (SEM). SEM is an index of variability in the student’s score, and estimates the variability in scores that might be expected if the student were tested repeatedly. In practice, it is estimated that 68% of the confidence bands of ± 1 SEM around observed scores will contain the student’s “true” score.
Please note that NLN Testing Services does not recommend a specific pass/fail score on which to make advanced placement decisions. Rather, faculty in courses that may be challenged by one or more of the tests in the NACE should set a pass/fail score based on the requirements for the relevant courses.
The Advisory Score records the percentage of items in a subscore that the student answered correctly. An advisory score is provided for each subscore in the examination.
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