When considering the fairness of psychometric tests, the question of who uses these tests and how resonsible they are should be considered. As the demand for psychometric tests grows, so does the number of people who are being trained and accredited to administer these tests.
Psychometric Tests in Educational and Occupational Settings
Psychometric tests are frequently used in educational areas (to assess levels of educational attainment and learning needs) and within the clinical setting these tests are used to diagnose emotional and behavioural disorders. They are also utilised in the occupational area where tests can be used as a means of careers-guidance, to help select personnel and assess training needs. It has been estimated that over 200 million tests of intelligence or achievement are administered annually in the USA alone.
Why are Psychometric Tests Used?
Tests are used for a number of different reasons, these include:
- Research where these tests can be used to provide information more efficiently than other methods of assessment such as observations and interviews.
- Diagnosis where attention is directed to the analysis of various characteristics or performances from task to task within one individual.
- Prognosis where observations in a standardized situation are made for the main purpose of predicting future behaviour.
There are some basic considerations, therefore, when those who administer the tests decide on which test to use for specific purposes. For example, tests designed for children should not be used with adults.
Should People Who Administer Psychometric Tests Be Qualified To Do So?
Both the British Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association have expressed concern about the fact that many people in industry who administer psychometric tests are not qualified to do so. This often leads to the use of tests that are inappropriate for the group involved or the problem at hand. Clear guidelines are given on what qualifies as competence in the use of psychology tests and many companies will therefore now employ staff qualified to administer, evaluate and interpret tests.
What Might Be Included in a Psychometric Testing Policy?
In accordance with the standards of the British Psychological Society, policies on psychometric testing might include the following guidelines:
- All psychometric tests to be used only for the specified purpose;
- Confidentiality will be assured and maintained at all times;
- All aspects of testing should be managed in accordance with the Data Protection Act;
- Equality of opportunity should be demonstrated continuously;
- All test users should be treated with fairness, impartiality and courtesy;
- No third party will have access to any testing material, documents, manuals or scores;
- All test materials should be stored securely, and;
- Test results should only be kept for the relevant time period and destroyed confidentially after one year.
Those who are qualified to administer the tests should take pains to ensure that they will do so in all fairness. In this, they should take into account the responsibility involved in ensuring fair test-procedure, the conditions of testing and the care necessary in interpreting results and in the use and release of test scores.
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