As you know, there have been some major changes in the area of psychometrics of late (i.e., the move from Level A and Level B qualifications to the new Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 qualifications).
To help you navigate your way through the changes, and to keep things manageable in terms of ‘information overload’, we decided to develop a few posts that are easier to digest that one extremely long post.
With this in mind, we outlined the work of the BPS’s Steering Committee on Test Standards (SCTS) in a previous post.
In this post, we will outline the work of the PSI in relation to regulation in the area of psychometrics.
As before, a few historical points to start with.
A few years ago, the ‘PSI Working Group on Psychometric Testing’ delivered a ‘Framework Policy Document on Psychometric Testing’ to PSI Council on 31st May 2003.
The ‘Framework Document’ pointed out that it was imperative for PSI to have a policy document on psychometrics. It noted that there were many anecdotal examples of psychologists misusing tests through incorrect administration, scoring, or interpretation of tests, or through using tests in a way which was outside their area of competence. It was noted that defining competence was difficult and it was essential that PSI members all realise that they are bound by the ‘International Guidelines on Test Use’ (see below). Making psychometrics an essential component of undergraduate and postgraduate courses would ensure that psychologists were fully aware of specific details, such as the difference between testing and assessment, the ethics of testing, as well as knowing how to gauge their own levels of competence. In concluding, the Working Group on Psychometrics asked Council that it work to produce a policy document on psychometrics as a matter of urgency.
Some issues highlighted in the Framework Document included:
(i) The International Guidelines For Test Use:
As PSI is a full member of the International Commission on Testing (ITC), its members are obliged to follow the International Guidelines for Test Use. With this, proof that an individual member is competent to administer and / or interpret a particular test rests on that individual member. Thus, a member who is in breach of the International Guidelines is also in breach of the PSI Code of Ethics and may be subject to discipline by the Board of Professional Conduct.
Within an Irish context, the Framework Document reported that PSI recognises that its members must follow the International Guidelines, in line with Irish legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, Irish Equality Legislation, and other such acts as may be relevant.
(ii) Psychometrics Components on Undergraduate and Postgraduate Courses:
PSI recognises that an appropriate course in psychometrics is an essential requirement for accreditation of an undergraduate degree programme (or equivalent) in psychology. At postgraduate level, PSI also recognises this need for postgraduate courses in clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health, neuro, and occupational psychology, and research postgraduate degrees where appropriate.
(iii) PSI as Provider of Continuous Professional Training in Testing:
PSI has a clear structure by which psychologists who do not have the necessary undergraduate and / or postgraduate training in psychometrics may receive additional training, as determined by the Training Board.
(iv) PSI’s Role in Setting Standards for Psychometric Courses for Non-psychologists:
PSI provides clear standards for training in psychometrics for non-psychologists and recognises courses that meet these standards.
(v) PSI’s Role in Disseminating its Policy on Testing:
PSI works actively to disseminate its policy own testing to psycholoigists and other tests users.
PSI and the International Test Commission (ITC)
The International Test Commission (ITC) Guidelines were officially published at the General Meeting of the ITC on 24 July, 2000 in Stockholm.
The PSI has been a member of The Council of the ITC since 2003. It formally endorses the guidelines on test use as developed by the ITC and has agreed to abide by these.
The European Federation of Professional Psychologists Associations’ (EFPA) Task Force on Tests and Testing also endorsed the Guidelines at its July 1999 meeting in Rome.
The PSI formally reproduced the ITC Guidelines in April 2006: ‘Policy on the use of Psychometric Tests in Ireland’.
Standing Committee on Psychometric Evaluation – SCoPE
In 2010, in an effort to promote best practice in education, training, practice, and supervision as related to the use of psychometric tests, PSI approved the Role and Functions of the Standing Committee on Psychometric Evaluation (SCoPE: ratified by Council on 16th May, 2011):
(i) Identify necessary components of competency-based training in psychometrics at under- graduate and post-graduate level and make recommendations to PSI Council in this regard.
(ii) Assist in the development of criteria for the approval of continuing professional development training modules. And make recommendations to PSI Council in this regard.
(iii) Advise PSI Council on policy as relates to the use of psychometric tests.
(iv) Liaise with the International Test Commission (ITC) and European Federation of Psychologists’’ Association (EFPA) with regards to international and European standards in psychometrics.
(v) Make recommendations to PSI Council on the setting of standards in training of non-psychologists in best practice of psychometric test use.
(vi) Link with BPC regarding ethical issues related to psychometric testing.
(vii) Liaise with test publishers and suppliers in an effort to ensure that the PSI Policy on Psychometric Test Use (2006 / 2009) is recognised and followed.
So, there it is. This is the current perspective of PSI in relation to regulatory issues to do with psychometrics and testing. The work of PSI is crucial in this area, as much of the ‘drive’ is from the BPS and EFPA (although PSI is a constituent member of EFPA). As the national representative body for psychologists, PSI has a significant role to play in relation to the dissemination and management of the new developments in the area. This role is important not only for psychologists and members of PSI, but also for allied professions (e.g., Guidance Counsellors) who use tests in their daily work and require direction from PSI regarding ‘best practice’ and certification.
As you know, Selection by Design (www.selectionxdesign.com) are completely supportive of the good work being done in the area by colleagues from the BPS and EFPA. We are equally delighted with the work being done locally by the PSI, especially considering that Conor, as the representative of the PSI’s Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology, is a member of SCoPE.
We hope that this post has been useful to you. If you have any queries about the work being done by PSI in the area of psychometrics and testing, get in touch and we can chat with you about it.
Barbara and Conor