Communicating test scores to teachers: moving from statistics to use

Gavin Thomas Lumsden BROWN, John HATTIE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Psychometric research focuses on the development of statistically robust scores that accurately reflect an object of interest (e.g., performance, ability, knowledge, or attitude) and the various sources of variance affecting the accuracy of the scores. In contrast, education professionals need to be concerned with the inferences and actions that arise once a statistically-derived score is found. Consequently, just as there is a disjuncture between Psychometrika and Clinicia (Cronbach, 1954), there is a similar disjuncture between Psychometrika and Educa (the world of educational practice). While much is made in the professional Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999) concerning the dependability of scores, little is said about the nature of reporting scores to educational users (e.g., teachers, administrators, students, or parents). The ultimate validity of a psychometrically-derived score is that the reader of the report makes the correct and appropriate inference and takes appropriate actions based on the assessed scores. Hence, if tests are to contribute to improved education, test developers need to know they have successfully communicated test scores to users. This paper will report a series of studies conducted in New Zealand with school users of standardised test reports. We will illustrate the importance of communicating, not so much the right score, as the scores in the right way for teaching professionals. This ability depends on understanding the informational needs and professional goals of teachers, the prior knowledge of such test users, and principles of effective communication as touchstones in developing appropriate reports.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Brown, G. T. L., & Hattie, J. (2011, July). Communicating test scores to teachers: moving from statistics to use. Paper presented at the 76th Annual and the 17th International Meeting of the Psychometric Society, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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