BACKGROUND: Composite score validity depends on its reliability, content, and comparison with other outcomes measures. This study examined all three aspects of a composite score used in a third-year surgery clerkship. METHOD: Composite score reliability was calculated using stratified alpha; several other reasonable composite combinations were tested. Correlation coefficients between clerkship composite scores and grades were calculated with other achievement measures. Two consecutive years were studied (N = 162, N = 159). RESULTS: The clerkship composite score reliability was .76 (Year 1) and .81 (Year 2). Positive correlations (P ≤ .05) were found between composite scores and other clerkships' test scores and the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 Clinical Knowledge examination. Positive correlations (P ≤ .05) were found between surgery clerkship grades and other clerkship grades. CONCLUSIONS: This study documents the reliability of a composite score and provides evidence for its validity in a surgery clerkship.
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