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Educational and Psychological Testing

Educational and Psychological Testing: A Study of the Industry and its Practices

Milton G. Holmen
Copyright Date: 1972
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Educational and Psychological Testing
    Book Description:

    Educational and psychological tests are often used in ways which touch most intimately the lives of people. For example, tests may influence who gets a job or who is selected to attend a college or graduate school. But not everyone has agreed that tests are a good thing. Over the past twenty years a wave of complaints has led to congressional hearings, court cases, and formal grievances before state and federal commissions. Holmen and Docter have analyzed these complaints and criticisms not only by considering the tests themselves but through examining the ways tests are used as elements in assessment systems.

    The applications of tests in clinical and counseling work, in educational achievement testing, and in personnel selection is discussed and evaluated. While the least amount of testing is in the personnel selections area, this is where the most complaints are found. Educational achievement testing has by far the largest testing programs and a wide range of criticisms has been voiced concerning this kind of assessment. Testing in connection with clinical and counseling work has generated the least public concern.

    An extensive analysis is given of the organizations which comprise the testing industry, including the various developers and publishers of tests and also test scoring organizations. The users of tests are considered from the standpoint of their professional training and also in terms of how their organizations influence technical standards of test development.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-649-5
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Milton G. Holmen and Richard Docter
  4. 1 The Uses of Tests: A Critical Survey
    (pp. 1-16)

    A black parent angrily questions his school board about the value of an IQ test: “What good does it do my child to have these low scores following him into every class?” Other parents denounce the tests and argue that the scores do not accurately reflect the intelligence of their children. A considerable time later, following numerous confrontations on the testing issue, the school board votes to stop all intelligence testing in the first three grades. But parents continue to ask: “Why not stop intelligence testing altogether?” They are joined by some teachers who say that intelligence test scores actually...

  5. 2 What Are Educational and Psychological Tests?
    (pp. 17-32)

    Human behavior may be described and measured in many different ways. The novelist, the schoolteacher, the poet, the shop foreman, and your next-door neighbor all have an impressive array of descriptive adjectives which may be assembled to offer a vivid picture of human characteristics. One of the problems, however, is that these several observers usually provide quite different descriptions of the same person, depending on the vantage point from which observations are made. One way of getting around this sampling error is to use a standard set of observations and to provide unambiguous scoring for them. This is one of...

  6. 3 Large Commercial Test Publishers
    (pp. 33-44)

    The six largest sellers of educational and psychological tests are the California Test Bureau; Educational Testing Service; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.; Houghton Mifflin Company; the Psychological Corporation; and Science Research Associates. These companies account for approximately three-quarters of the total testsalesin the country and for probably a higher percentage of the educational test sales.

    The six organizations share a number of characteristics: (1) They have all been engaged in the testing business for a long time; most of them helped pioneer the testing field in the 1920’s. (2) The companies all sell a wide variety as well as...

  7. 4 Other Commercial Test Publishers
    (pp. 45-54)

    Although the six largest test publishers account for more than three-quarters of all tests sold commercially, at least one hundred other persons and organizations offer tests for sale to the general public. These publishers are of two general types, the medium-size commercial publishers that actively engage in the testing business and the one-test publishers that sell tests in addition to, or in support of, some other principal activity.

    The medium-size test publishers include twenty-two organizations that are smaller and more limited in their product line than the largest testing companies, and yet are significantly different from the large number of...

  8. 5 Government Use of Tests for Employment
    (pp. 55-70)

    Federal, state, and local governments become involved in testing primarily through their roles as employers and educators. Some government agencies develop their own tests, but many purchase testing materials from organizations specializing in public personnel work. To a limited extent, government agencies also sell tests. This chapter discusses government use of tests for employment of both military and civilian personnel.

    The American military services make extensive use of testing procedures. From the standpoint of personnel matters, the problem faced by the military services is this: Given a large pool of manpower, how can individuals be sorted out according to aptitude...

  9. 6 State Educational Testing Programs
    (pp. 71-80)

    In addition to their sponsorship of employment testing, states conduct educational testing programs, generally under the auspices of state departments of education. For the most part, the state departments of education have administrative control of state educational testing programs, whether the programs are voluntary or compulsory. These programs are informally coordinated by an Annual Conference of Statewide Testing Program Directors sponsored by Educational Testing Service. The annual conferences provide a forum for discussion of major testing programs and problems.State Testing Programs: A Survey of Functions, Tests, Materials, and Services, published by Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, in 1968,...

  10. 7 Contract and Proprietary Testing Programs
    (pp. 81-98)

    The preceding chapters have described different elements of the testing “establishment.” This chapter, while describing other organizations involved in testing, focuses on relationships between test users and test producers, particularly those in which the test users rather than the producers have initiated the programs and relationships. It indicates many different organizational arrangements for developing and operating testing systems. The chapter title reflects the fact that contracts between organizations typically provide the “glue” that binds the subsystems together into testing systems. The wide variety of apparently successful arrangements should be encouraging to persons interested in creating a testing system.

    What distinguishes...

  11. 8 Test Scoring and Interpretation
    (pp. 99-108)

    For many years, tests have been scored and interpreted manually. Development of computer and advanced electronics technology has led to the development of machine scoring and interpretation and related services. The rise of such services has both benefited the testing industry and created new ethical problems for testing professionals to solve. This chapter discusses the use of machines for scoring and interpretation, and the problems and criticisms stemming from this use (Carter, 1966).

    Test scoring, undoubtedly the largest and most rapidly growing test service offered, probably accounts for more income than does the sale of tests and answer sheets. For...

  12. 9 People and Organizations in Testing
    (pp. 109-122)

    The quality of an assessment system is dependent on the competence of many individuals; the adequacy of assessment systems nationwide is also dependent on the ways in which competence is evaluated and assured, functions typically performed by government agencies and professional associations. This chapter is concerned with the people actually involved in testing, and the legal and organizational means of assuring adequacy of professional qualifications and practice.

    A person who selects tests for testing programs must be able to derive specific test objectives from educational, employment, and other program objectives which the testing serves. He must have general knowledge of...

  13. 10 Control of Test Standards, Distribution and Use of Tests
    (pp. 123-134)

    Although control of testing practices is not the exclusive concern of any group or agency, controls are most effectively exercised by the professional organizations discussed in the preceding chapter.

    The three principal ways in which professional organizations influence the quality of testing are: (1) by establishing standards for tests and related materials; (2) by recommending to test publishers the standards of education that should be met by persons to whom tests are distributed; and (3) by monitoring the professional practices of the organizations’ members.

    The first organizational recommendations for test standards were theTechnical Recommendations for Psychological Tests and Diagnostic...

  14. 11 Test Reviews and Advertising
    (pp. 135-144)

    In Chapter 1 we mentioned that critics of testing decried rigid use or interpretation of test scores, the assumption that tests measure innate characteristics, and the self-fulfilling prophesies that test interpretations may become. If these criticisms are valid, then we must determine to what extent problems are caused by incorrect or inadequate information available to persons using tests. Are there adequate reviews of tests to inform potential users? Can the typical test user interpret the reviews in terms of his problems? Does test advertising tend primarily to inform or to mislead? This chapter examines test reviews and test advertising in...

  15. 12 Testing in Relation to Employment Discrimination and the Invasion of Privacy
    (pp. 145-160)

    Some objections to the use of tests focus on the inadequacies of tests to meet their intended uses; for example, tests are used for selection though they lack adequate validation. Other objections center on undesirable by-products of testing, such as invasion of privacy. A third concern is the possibility that tests may be used to accomplish a nonlegitimate goal, such as racial discrimination in employment; or that they may be unintentionally used to thwart legitimate objectives of employees and applicants, of persons being tested, or of persons using tests. The role of testing in employment and education is discussed in...

  16. 13 Summary and Recommendations
    (pp. 161-172)

    The formulation of requirements for competent assessment systems and their application to the activities of those involved in testing has shed some light on problems raised by critics of testing and has raised some new problems. These issues are summarized in this chapter in order of their importance, and recommendations are made for action by different groups.

    The most serious testing problems generally occur when the persons in charge of testing programs do not monitor all aspects of the testing system. For example, this may result in the use of good tests for inappropriate purposes, or it may result in...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 173-174)
  18. Appendix
    (pp. 175-210)
  19. Index
    (pp. 211-218)