[IPAC-List] Testing Education

Reed, Elizabeth EReed1 at Columbus.gov
Mon Nov 23 08:29:23 EST 2009

You can add me to list of hopeless idealist. I agree that we need to change the message that we send to test takers, but that message begins by developing well-constructed, valid, reliable exams, that are administered and scored consistently and fairly. It doesn't take a person educated in testing to identify a poorly developed exam. While such an individual may not understand all the ins and outs of testing, they often have the feedback we need to hear.

We go through painstaking efforts to develop valid and reliable public safety exams--I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, if we create lists full of persons with little competence then we are literally putting lives on the line. Candidates in public safety are critical of the examination process and rightfully so. The pressure is on to ensure the testing process, especially in a rule of three environment, is on target. We do get candidates who will never understand that their performance of the exams was lower or lower than some other person, because they demonstrated less competence the important areas that were assessed. However, we also get candidates, who after it's all said and done that state; I will follow whoever does well on the this exam--as they have earned it.

When we can achieve that type of sentiment when we know we did it well.


Elizabeth A. Reed
Police and Fire Assessment Supervisor
Columbus Civil Service Commission
750 Piedmont Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43224
Office: (614) 645-6032 Fax: (614) 645-0866
Email: Ereed1 at columbus.gov

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 9:40 PM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Testing Education

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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