The passing score on the California Acupuncture Licensing Examination is determined by SME's under the direction of the Department of Consumer Affair's Office of Examination Resources and the Board's examination contractor. The criteria defines the minimum acceptable level of competence required in California for the safe and effective practice of acupuncture. The passing score is determined by a criterion-referenced method, which is commonly used in licensing examination. A criterion-referenced passing score applies minimum standards for competent practice to all candidates.
Criterion-referenced standard setting begins with the establishment of minimum acceptable level of competence for safe practice that candidates must possess in order to pass the examination. The standard setting is a group process. The group is composed of licensed practitioners representing all aspects of the practice and cultures. To ensure that the description of the profession represents the job tasks of practitioners entering the profession, the group always includes a number of entry-level practitioners.
The advantage of using criterion-referenced scoring is that licensing examinations vary in difficulty from one administration to another, and a fixed passing score does not represent the minimally acceptable competence for all administrations of an examination. Also this methodology allows for the passing score to be lower for a more difficult examination and raised for a less difficult examination, thus providing safeguards to both the candidate and the consumer.