The EFPA Model: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3

The work of previous posts has been building up to the content of this particular post. Here we outline, in as jargon-free a manner as possible, what the new qualifications are.

At a straightforward level, rather than a discrete set of qualifications (i.e., like the BPS Level A and Level B qualifications), the standards are now defined in terms of levels of knowledge and skill (related to the European Qualification Framework: EQF) and described in modular form. Modules are of different types (i.e., psychometric knowledge, psychological knowledge, or practitioner skills) and qualifications are defined as collections of modules at one or more levels.

Many of the standards are likely to be applicable in assessment situations and for purposes more general than those concerned primarily with psychological testing (e.g., the use of assessment centres for employment placement or selection, semi-structured, and structured interviews, or assessment for selection, career guidance and counselling). Two guiding principles underlie the qualification scheme. These principles aim to:

(i) Ensure that qualifications are awarded on the basis of:  (a) demonstrated competence in the performance of the professional roles associated with test use during supervised practice, and (b) endorsement of relevant national Member Association and EFPA ethical standards for test users.

(ii) Endorse a commitment to the active maintenance of competence. For this reason, qualifications are awarded for a limited time period, and shall be renewed, again for a limited period of time, on the basis of evidence of continuing professional practice and competence.

Thus, the EFPA model is based on a levelled competence approach (i.e., the levels being progressive):

  • Level 1:  Being competent to practice under supervision.
  • Level 2:  Being competent to practice independently in limited situations.
  • Level 3:  Being competent to practice independently in a broad range of situations with expertise in one or more areas.

At each Level, competence is defined in terms of one or more domains of practice. This model makes more sense as a structure for harmonisation.

The ‘Levels’ will be aligned with the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the UK’s equivalent.

As noted, the three levels are progressive. The person who seeks a Level 3 qualification will have to be able to demonstrate or have demonstrated that they also meet the requirements for Levels 1 and 2.

Ok, we hope that this post has been relatively easy to follow so far…

So, the qualifications are available at three levels of competence. The new names for the Levels are:

  • Level 1:  Assistant Test User.
  • Level 2:  Test User.
  • Level 3:  Specialist in Test Use.

Now that we have got to the point of having names for the new Levels, the next part of the post gives descriptions of the competences associated with each of the Levels.

1. Level 1: Assistant Test User.

This relates to the test user who is competent to practice in well-defined and constrained contexts, under the supervision of a more experienced test user (i.e., Level 2 or Level 3 certified user). Roles could involve, for example, routine recruitment and selection procedures or standardised development programmes. They would operate within organisational policies and directives on testing and test use. They will have awareness of broader issues related to testing and test use, of limitations and value of using tests, and know when to seek more expert help. They will not be able to make choices about which tests should be used or provide interpretations of test scores beyond those provided in standard reports and to guidelines provided on how to use test information together with other assessment data in decision making.

2. Level 2: Test User.

This is the qualified test user who is competent to practice independently as a test user within a limited range of conditions and competent to practice more broadly under the supervision of a Level 3 user. They will be able to make choices between tests and of when to use or not use tests. They will have the necessary understanding of the technical qualities of tests sufficient for their use but not for test construction. They will have the necessary knowledge and skills to interpret specific tests. Typically, Level 2 users will be working in an HR department, employment agencies, or within consultancies offering testing services. They may be involved in testing for personnel selection, development, or career guidance and advice.

Within the Test User level, qualifications in ability (formerly Level A) and personality (formerly Level B Intermediate / Intermediate Plus) testing are available. The qualification in ability testing is usually generic, covering a range of ability and aptitude tests and giving test users access to tests from many suppliers on successful completion of this qualification. Personality qualifications are based around specific instruments or ‘families’ of instruments (a family of instruments will typically all be based on a common model of personality, meaning knowledge and skills can be transferred to different instruments in the same family). Because of this, Occupational test users can build up a number of qualifications at the Test User level.

3. Level 3: Specialist in Testing.

This is (typically) the experienced occupational or work / organizational psychologist who is specialised in test use and is competent to practice independently across a wide range of conditions within the relevant context (i.e., work and organizational assessment settings). They will have completed a number of training courses relating to a variety of different tests and types of tests. While not all Level 3 users may be competent to design and develop tests, some may go on to develop expertise in these more advanced technical areas.  Some users in this category may come from related professions (e.g., HR) having acquired the necessary additional psychological knowledge and skills through training and professional practice.

Thus, Level 3 involves a degree of expertise in depth and / or greater breadth. Depending upon their particular profile of competence and skills, Level 3 test users may be (i) able to provide advice and consultancy on testing, or (ii) be able to train others in test use, or (iii) be able to construct tests for use in occupational settings or, (iv) be able to provide expert evidence in court cases.

The Level 3 qualification was formally ‘Level B Full’.

Ok, now that we have the names of the new Levels and descriptions of the competences associated with each, a logical question from many people would be: “In terms of conversion, how do the ‘old’ Level A and Level B qualifications ‘map’ to the Levels?”

To help answer this question, the following might help:

* Occupational Test Administration [Old title: Test Administration]

* Occupational Ability Test Use [Old title: Level A]

* Occupational Personality Test Use [Old title: Level B Intermediate]

* Educational Test Use [Old title: CCET];

* Specialist in Occupational Test Use [Old title: Full Level B]

Intermediate Level B+ will no longer be a qualification but will be recorded as additional module sets on the Occupational Personality Test Use qualification profile. There will be no limit on how many additional module sets covering particular instruments or instrument types people can register.

That is:

  • Level 1 = Assistant Test User. Used to be ‘Test Administration’.
  • Level 2 = Test User. Covering ‘Occupational, Ability’ (formerly Level A), and ‘Personality’ (formerly Level B Intermediate / Intermediate Plus).
  • Level 3 = Specialist in Test Use (formally ‘Level B Full’).

As ever, we have sourced and brought together a lot of information for this post. In synthesising the information, we hope that we have been able to help you with a query that many people have at he moment regarding qualifications in psychometrics.

If you want to chat about the information in the post, or the implication of the changes to you or your colleagues, let us know and we can talk with you further about these important developments.

Barbara and Conor

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