[IPAC-List] Testing Education

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Sun Nov 22 21:39:49 EST 2009

It's not so much educated about tests, as much as educated about testing
process, sometimes. As for "by whom?", slipping a useful phrase or two
into the test administrators instruction sheet and script couldn't hurt.

We're in a rut when it comes to test instructions and the scripts we hand
administrators. We need to get out of it. Testees need to be able to think
of us as being on their side, not merely another instance of the teacher
they remember who took immense pride in failing everyone.

Our job is to help employers and candidates find a match. People deserve
to be in jobs where they thrive, employers deserve to hire people who will
be terrific AND happy in the job, and tests are in service of that. Call me a
hopeless idealist, but that message needs to get out there more often.

And not just in the employment context but in the education context too.
The goal of any test I might apply in a class is to find out if what I'm trying
to get across to students is making it through, and for students to confirm
for themselves that their subjective impression of learning is substantiated
by objective evidence.

If a test is "biased", it is telling you you're not good enough when possibly
you are. If a test is inaccurate, it is telling you that there are things you
can do that maybe you can't, or that you can't do things that maybe you
can. When it comes to the resentment and paranoia many people have
about tests, they arrive at that view because they think purely in terms
of "bias", and rarely in terms of the value to themselves of an accurate
assessment. Maybe if we broached the whole topic in terms of achieving
a win-win match, instead of pitching tests as if they are intended to keep
out the riff-riff, we'd meet with less hostility in a less adversarial arena.


>>> "Dennis Doverspike " <dd1 at uakron.edu> 11/22/09 11:43 AM >>>

Educated - by whom? One of my great fears regarding testing, is that the
problem is getting worse rather than better. Due to standardized testing
pressures in the schools, from 1st grade on, or even before, school children
are now being taught by their teachers that tests are bad, unfair, do not
assess knowledge, and are otherwise full of testing tricks. The situation
does not get better when students get to college, in Introduction to
Psychology classes, students are taught about the evils of testing including
the inherent biases against most cultures. The government can point to SIOP
members and argue that there is no consensus that ability tests are really
valid and free of bias, even if one could argue there is as much consensus
as there is in the medical community regarding drugs or surgeries.

My esteemed colleague Winfred Arthur often asks the question as to whether
if a test could be 100% accurate, would people want to use it or see the
result? I fear we know how most people would answer that question.

We have met the enemy - and it is testing.

Of course, this problem is not limited to psychological tests for employment
purposes. People often cheat or fake on clinical psychology tests, usually
to fake bad rather than good (and see for example the huge controversy
recently over the release of the Rorschach ok Wikipedia). People cheat on
drug tests. People cheat on medical exams.

And believe it or not, I am an optimist regarding human nature.

Dennis Doverspike

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