Assessing for Competence Need Not Devalue Grades

Glen Van Der Vyver
InSITE 2007  •  Volume 7  •  2007
Norm-based assessment is under fire from some quarters because it is often unfair and is out of touch with the demands of the job market. Criterion-referenced assessment is touted as the answer by others but problems remain, in particular with regards to the maintenance of standards. This study examines the use of competency-based assessment in an undergraduate database course. The findings suggest that it is possible to create an assessment instrument that is relevant to particular skills required in the job market but does not inflate grades across the board. A remarkable idiosyncrasy emerges in that the distribution of scores assumes a bi-polar shape with a significant number of high grades and a significant number of grades at the lowest passing level or failing grades.
grade inflation, criterion-based assessment, academic standards, competence, norm-based assessment.
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