A common objection to comparative judgement is that it is essentially norm-referenced. This is a fair assumption given the scale is constructed based on comparisons between artefacts.

However, it is wrong to say that comparative judgement is essentially norm-referenced. In fact comparative judgement scores can be used for either norm- or criterion-referencing purposes, as can the scores from any assessment process including traditional marking.

There are numerous ways that comparative judgement scores can be linked to criterion, standards or other external referents. For example McMahon and Jones (2014) scrutinised the 'natural' cut-points in a scale, and held grading meetings to decide where the criteria lie.

For further discussion on methods of assigning criterion-referenced grading to No More Marking outcomes see this blog post.

In fact, a particular strength of comparative judgement is is ability to maintain and evaluate external standards. It is used by the examinations regulator Ofqual for this purpose.