[IPAC-List] Testing Education

RPClare at aol.com RPClare at aol.com
Mon Nov 23 08:54:53 EST 2009

I, too, am an optimist. One of the many mentors I had trying to teach me
this business once said "no one ever failed a good exam". His explanation was
that once you fail, it must be the tests fault. We have two reasons for
test advanced information/instructions. The first is to prepare those who
will accept the information constructively and the second is to prepare a
defense to a challenge that asserts they were never told xxxx.

Another important factor is how we communicate the results and afford
candidates the opportunity to learn from the process. I have several wonderful
anecdotes above the process and the bias in which candidates interpret the
process. I believe PT Barnum once said "No one ever went broke
underestimating the American public." At an open seating exam, I jokingly said "there is
no reason for anyone to try to copy other candidate's answers since they
were each seated surrounded by folks that weren't as smart as they were". At
the end of the test 4 or 5 people came up and asked how I did that. There
will always be a portion of our customers who will complain about
everything and just don't/won't get it.

We need to focus on continuous education and PR about our processes and
create realistic expectations about the outcomes.

In a message dated 11/23/2009 8:29:51 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
EReed1 at Columbus.gov writes:

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
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
you are. If a test is inaccurate, it is telling you that there are things
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


>>> "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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