5. What if an appropriate nationally normed test of achievement in the major is not available?
Departments are not required to use nationally normed tests. In fact, North Central Evaluators discourage the use of nationally normed tests if they do not provide relevant information about student achievement in the major. One advantage of nationally normed tests is that they provide a comparative standard of performance; a disadvantage is that they often do not relate directly to a department's program objectives. Popular alternatives to the nationally normed exam are locally developed exams (such as the exams used by our departments of Criminal Justice and Psychology) and performance-based assessments (a capstone project or a portfolio, such as the senior project in Geosciences or senior recital in Music). Locally developed exams are scored "objectively." Performance-based assessments typically use a criterion-referenced rating system.