NEW YORK -- The College Board has announced a score revision for the October 15, 2002, administration of the PSAT/NMSQT. A flawed question was identified on the writing skills section after scores were released. The question (#10) has been dropped from the test, and the test has been rescored.
Each Tuesday test-taker's original score (which included question 10) was compared with the new score (in which question 10 was dropped). The final score for each test-taker is the higher of the two scores. As a result, the writing skills scores of almost 500,000 test-takers will increase, most by only one or two points.
By the end of the second week of May, all Tuesday testing schools will have received the names of any students whose writing skills scores have been revised. This mailing will also include individual letters for students that will indicate their new writing skills scores.
A high school journalism teacher identified the item and reported it at the end of January. He argued that the correct answer was not the one specified in the reports sent to schools. During the course of development, the question received numerous internal reviews and then was reviewed by a number of external consultants. Following the teacher's challenge, Educational Testing Service, the company that creates questions for College Board tests, submitted the question to three outside experts for independent assessment.
Two of the three experts consulted indicated that the question had two possible answers, A and E, though they personally preferred the E option, the intended answer. The third expert more emphatically approved of E, while noting the possible second answer, A, is supported by more prescriptive grammarians. As one of the reviewers pointed out, the rule on which the teacher's challenge is based is presented as valid in a number of well-respected and widely used grammar and usage handbooks.
As noted above, the intended answer was E. The teacher argued that A is the correct response. The question is whether "Morrison's" can serve as the noun antecedent for the pronoun "her." Since "Morrison's" is a possessive, some experts asserted, it cannot properly be considered the referent. Others said the sentence is idiomatic English and that a possessive sometimes is used as a substitute for a noun. Therefore, the question is testing "usage" or descriptive grammar.
The decision has been made to rescore and re-equate the test without the problematic item. Adjusted scaled scores range from 20 to 80 and represent the same performance level regardless of whether a student took the Tuesday edition or the Saturday edition of the PSAT/NMSQT.
For more information, visit PSAT/NMSQT on collegeboard.com.