Student-centered education requires timely identification of professional students not progressing appropriately in their chosen discipline. However, many institutions in the United States have been slow to develop “progress” exams designed to assess to test individual student progress towards graduation. Literature review found scant evidence of schools reporting design and implementation of such assessments. This paper shares the process piloted at one U.S. dental school to develop a case-based written exam, map test items to concepts/knowledge expected of students and evaluate the validity and effectiveness of the exam as a useful measure of learning progress. It also analyzes the correlation between other existing student performance measures and scores on this assessment. Regression analysis revealed that student performance measures such as undergraduate grade point average (GPA), academic standing in the program, class rank, and first-time success or failure on the National Board Dental Exam (NBDE) Part II all had significant positive correlation with student scores on this assessment examination. This assessment was found to have a strong reliability score as well. Although piloted in a dental school, the methodology employed in this exam creation may provide a pedagogical model for building comprehensive assessments in other professional or vocational training programs providing valuable early identification of students not progressing towards competency in time for remedial action to be taken.

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