Assessment

Expert Workgroup Sets Standards of Medical Proficiency for Exam

By Julien WilliamsNovember 13, 2019

The End of Curriculum Exam Standard Setting Workgroup. Photo: Julien Williams/PAEA

During a three-day meeting in Chicago, 21 content experts from across the country met to set standards for the PAEA End of Curriculum™ exam.

The End of Curriculum exam, a 300-question, objective, standardized evaluation of a student’s medical knowledge as one component of their readiness for graduation, is set to launch January 6, 2020. In the creation of the exam, the standard-setting process was conducted by PA educators and subject matter experts from a variety of roles and PA programs.

The workgroup used the Bookmark Method, officially recognized as an empirically justifiable process to standard-set exams. Participants followed this rigorous process to place scores into one of three nationally set performance categories: Limited Medical Knowledge, Satisfactory Medical Knowledge, and Advanced Medical Knowledge. It is up to each PA program to decide if and which categorial scores accurately represent a passing score — and which one is most appropriate for their program.

In accordance with best practices, the meeting was facilitated by two NCCPA psychometricians. Two PAEA Board members, PAEA Assessment staff, and Assessment Editor in Chief Kim Cavanagh, attended the meeting as observers. Recommendations from the Standard Setting Workgroup will be presented to the PAEA Board of Directors in early December. Based on these recommendations, the board will vote on the final categorial scores, and thus the standard for the exam. Final details will be published for the full membership before the end of the year.

Feedback from the Chicago meeting was extremely positive. “Regarding the meeting, it was a valuable and gratifying experience. Please commend the entire team for their efforts. I never thought I would be so excited about psychometrics. I’m looking forward to seeing the exam roll out!” said Elana A. Min of Northwestern University’s PA program. 

“It was so gratifying to see this group of very experienced PA educators working together,” said PAEA President Jon Bowser. “The volunteers who gathered here in Chicago represent hundreds of years of collective experience in clinical practice and PA education. It was very inspiring.” 

 To learn more about the End of Curriculum exam and how to bring it to your program, visit the PAEA website.

Julien Williams

Julien is PAEA's manager of assessment development.