Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly D. Bradley


Setting performance standards is a judgmental process involving human opinions and values as well as technical and empirical considerations and although all cut score decisions are by nature arbitrary, they should not be capricious. Establishing a minimum passing standard is the technical expression of a policy decision and the information gained through standard setting studies inform these policy decisions. To this end, it is necessary to conduct robust examinations of methods and techniques commonly applied to standard setting studies in order to better understand issues that may influence policy decisions.

The modified-Angoff method remains one of the most popular methods for setting performance standards in testing and assessment. With this method, is common practice to provide content experts with feedback regarding the item difficulties; however, it is unclear how this feedback affects the ratings and recommendations of content experts. Recent research seems to indicate mixed results, noting that the feedback given to raters may or may not alter their judgments depending on the type of data provided, when the data was provided, and how raters collaborated within groups and between groups. This research seeks to examine issues related to the effects of item-level feedback on the judgment of raters.

The results suggest that the most important factor related to item-level feedback is whether or not a Subject Matter Expert (SME) was able to correctly answer a question. If so, then the SMEs tended to rely on their own inherent sense of item difficulty rather than the data provided, in spite of empirical evidence to the contrary. The results of this research may hold implications for how standard setting studies are conducted with regard to the difficulty and ordering of items, the ability level of content experts invited to participate in these studies, and the types of feedback provided.