Friday, October 06, 2006

Modular testing is the way to go

One of the best presentations I went to at this year's IPMAAC conference was made by Eric Palmer from the City of Fort Worth, TX .

In the presentation (which unfortunately isn't up but Eric is very good about sharing), titled "Modular Testing: Cheaper, Faster, and Smarter Assessment", Eric described a system that I think every mid- to large-size organization should investigate.

Modular testing focuses on testing candidates once, for a wide range of KSAs, rather than making people test each time a job comes up. The candidate decides which test modules they want to take--examples might include Reading Comprehension, Analytical Skill, Mathematics, etc. In the City of Fort Worth, candidates end up what they call a "KSA profile" which lists their standardized scores in each category.

When an opening comes up, the system knows (having been previously programmed based on job analysis information) to pull out candidates based on their scores in the system. A clerical job might require high levels of Typing and Word Processing knowledge. An analyst position might require higher Analytical and Written Expression scores. Point is, the system knows to spit out a list of the most qualified candidates based on their scores compared to the position-specific KSA profile.

What a great idea. It's not new, but Eric showed an example of how something like this works in practice. How come more organizations, particularly in the public sector, aren't doing this? I know the
State of California is investigating doing this for its IT jobs but I don't hear many people talk about it. This is, IMHO, where we should all be.

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