Passing the CACO – written components
Each item on the written CACO is worth 1 mark. The candidate’s total score is a sum of the number of correct items.
The number of correct items necessary to pass the component has been determined before the exam by a representative panel of optometrists using a well-recognized standard-setting or pass score setting process. This process results in establishing a minimum performance level for the component. The candidate’s total score must meet this minimum performance level to pass the component.
The foundation of setting a fair and defensible pass score for the CACO written exam begins with an item validation process that ensures the relevancy and accuracy of the selected correct response.
Setting a fair and defensible pass score for the CACO written exam involves a process that ensures the correct best answer for each item. The process is:
- Item Writing: the writer determines the best answer for the item and demonstrates this by including an appropriate reference.
- Peer review: a group of writers re-confirms the best answer for the item
- Validation: a panel of optometrists who did not write or peer review the question validates the best answer for the item
- Standard setting: a panel of optometrists who did not participate in the previous steps and whose responsibility it is to set the pass score for the exam using the recognized standard setting method further validates the best answer for the item. In doing so, these optometrists have an appreciation for the level of difficulty of the items.
Passing the CACO – skills components
Each item is scored yes / no during the exam. The weighting of each item has been pre-determined by a panel of optometrists.
The candidate’s total score reflects the number of items successfully performed multiplied by their respective weightings. There is a minimum performance level (MPL) or pass score for each of the skills components. (The MPL for a component, for example Skills 1, represents the summation of the average of the ratings given by optometrists for each item). The candidate’s total score must meet this MPL to pass the component.
The process of determining the MPL for each component involves the participation of a representative sample of practicing optometrists using a recognized standard setting process. This is done before an administration.
Note that the CACO is a criterion-referenced assessment which focuses on whether candidates meet the required performance level for entry-level candidates. The performance of candidates is not compared to each other and there are not any predetermined pass rates.