Frequently Asked Questions About Licensing Exams

Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing

CLEAR Exam Review (Summer 1990)
Eric Werner, M.A.

Question: What document is more pertinent to licensing and certification tests -- the APA Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing or the EEOC Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures?

Answer: In most situations, the Standards. The Guidelines developed by several federal agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are intended to apply to selection standards covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In general, however, the Act does not apply to licensing activities (see the article by labor attorney Keith Pyburn Jr. in the December, 1989 issue of NCEI.), and the Guidelines are, in some important respects, more a product of lawyers concerned with governmental oversight and litigation than of measurement professionals concerned primarily with testing issues. Nevertheless, some test development organizations voluntarily adhere to parts of the Guidelines they believe represent important technical standards, and one state (California) applies the Guidelines to licensing tests in relation to its equal opportunity statutes.

It is also true that if results of a licensing or certification test are used to make employment decisions, Title VII and the Guidelines could be applied to the actions of the parties using the test in this way. Overall, however, the 1985 Standards are more pertinent and include a chapter concerned exclusively with credentialing tests.

CLEAR Exam Review (Winter 1996)
Norman R. Hertz

Question: We are interested in adopting an examination that was developed by a professional association and is in use by some states. However, we have been advised by our consultant that the examination does not meet the testing standards for our state. Aren't the testing standards consistent from state to state?

Answer: Yes, they are. The standards most often applied are the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. However, these standards are limited in scope when considering the entire examination program. For example, although most examination providers conduct an occupational analysis, the quality of occupational analyses varies, and the consultant may object to the methods employed. The sample size may have been too small, segments of the population may have been under-represented, or, as often happens, the number of respondents from a state may be too small for appropriate statistical inferences. The consultant could be concerned about the manner in which the examination questions were developed. He or she may object to the quality of the questions when item and overall test.

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2002 Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation