[IPAC-List] Measurement education

GWEN SCHINDLER gschindler at comp.state.md.us
Thu Oct 25 08:33:37 EDT 2012

Hello Steven,

What does your promotional examination assess? Is it a measure of cognitive ability or job knowledge only? Or does it also include assessment of other leadership components, writing ability, a behavior description interview, and/or some other assessment of soft skills such as communication, interpersonal skill and motivation?

Gwen Schindler, Team Leader, Recruitment and Testing
Comptroller of Maryland
Office of Human Resources
Phone: 410-260-6622
Fax: 410-974-5249

>>> "Partain, Steven C." <Steven.Partain at tvfr.com> 10/24/2012 7:26 PM >>>

Folks, I am facing a bit of a crisis of understanding related to measurement in promotional exams. Every-so-often we have a promotional exam in which the names and ranking of eligibles on the list don't match what our folks know about those candidates. We've had several recently with the "best" people failing the exams. As you might imagine, HR is to blame, and we are under great pressure to change our approach to exams to ensure the "best" people pass and are appropriately ranked. I won't go through all the practices we use to ensure validity, reliability, standardization, etc. We certainly are always looking at those factors and have room to improve. But the underlying message is to make our exams "more successful," which means that the resulting eligible list matches the perceptions of our workforce about their true ability.

So, here's my question. I feel pretty well-versed in the folly of holistic assessments, the relatively low validity of others "sizing up" candidates intuitively, etc. I have attempted-and obviously failed-to convey some of the science underlying this. How have others successfully overcome this challenge? Are there metaphors that have worked? A written piece published that captures the issue in laymen's terms?

Any help is appreciated. Otherwise, I fear we will head down the road of having the workforce rank candidates-kind of a popularity contest.


Steven Partain
HR Manager
Human Resources
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue
11945 SW 70th Avenue, Tigard, Oregon 97223
Ph. 503-259-1292

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