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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.