Increasing the Accuracy of Licensure Decisions: On the benefits of more, shorter exams

  • 06 Apr 2100
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This session discusses a shift in thinking, moving away from focusing on the accuracy of exam decisions to a focus on the accuracy of licensure decisions. Exam decisions look at the outcomes of single exams, whereas licensure decisions consider the entire exam process (including retake policies). This presentation will show, using simple probability theory, how this change in focus leads to startling conclusions: Truly qualified candidates almost never receive false-negative licensure decisions when they are allowed multiple retake opportunities. Highly reliable exams can have shockingly high false-positive licensure rates. Multiple exams of modest length and reliability can result in more accurate licensure decisions.

The session content is appropriate for assessment professionals, policymakers, and administrators, in that it provides information on how to evaluate an assessment system with respect to its primary policy goal: increasing the accuracy of licensure decisions. Session attendees will learn about the concepts of reliability, decision consistency, and decision accuracy and how measures of these concepts are related. Attendees will learn how retake policies, while entirely appropriate, can drastically increase the likelihood of false positives when making licensure decisions. Finally, attendees will learn how more, shorter exams can improve accuracy while at the same time providing additional opportunities for candidate feedback and recognition (e.g., badging).

Originally presented: July 2021


Brett Foley, Director, Professional Credentialing & Senior Psychometrician, Alpine Testing Solutions

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