Institutional Assessment

Why are the minimum scores for PRAXIS II tests all different? How are they determined, anyway?

On most standardized tests, the minimum passing score – sometimes called a “cut score” – is one standard deviation below the mean (average) score earned by the representative sample of test-takers – called a “norming group” – who took the test the year that standards were set. The most important thing to remember about a norming group is that it is made up of students just like you.

Most PRAXIS II scores range from 0-200.  The mean score varies by field and test, as does the standard deviation (a measure of how dispersed the values in a set of data are). One test might have a mean score of 155 with a standard deviation of 21 and another mean score of 186 with a standard deviation of 53. The cut score for the first test would be set at 134, and the cut score for the second at 131.

The percentile value of a cut score – that is, the percent of students in the norming group whose scores were equal to or lower than a particular test taker – is usually quite low, somewhere between the 15th and 30th percentile, depending upon the test.


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