Selecting the Right Assessment

Welcome to this course which covers the basics of assessment. Most career counselors and coaches use some form of assessment to help their students and clients better understand themselves and make decision about a forward moving career direction.  This may entail inventories to asses their interests, tests to identify strengths and knowledge, or other characteristics that come into play for career selection and career success. It is important to know how to select the very best test that will help your students and clients.

This course will hopefully think about the important factors in selecting the right assessment and will encourage you to follow those criteria in selecting the best assessment and to follow ethical principles as you do that.

In this course you will learn: 

  • the reason that tests are often used in education and career development
  • the criteria for selecting the right test for your clientele
  • about the resources to assist you in selecting the right assessment for your clientele
  • to think about ethical principles in selecting and using assessment

This course has some readings and videos for you to watch. When you are asked to read a document, watch a video, or take another action, it will be highlighted in red.

Download the worksheet and save it to your computer. Answer the questions on the worksheet as noted. You will need to send the worksheet to the course author, Dr. Janet Wall.  Once you have completed the worksheet and completed the evaluation, you will receive a certificate of completion for 5 CEU clock hours.

Please note that the evaluation will ask you the amount of time you spent on the course. This is for record keeping purposes only, but you must enter the amount of time. You have 30 days to complete the course.

Ready? Begin this course.

Why Test

Read this document WHY TEST which lays out the basic reasons that testing and assessment may be useful in your work.

Answer the items 1- 4 on your worksheet.

Read this document to see how assessment is typically used in career development and planning.

Selecting the Right Test

So often I hear people in educational and career settings indicated that they are looking for new assessments. They ask their colleagues what they are using and what do they recommend. There are thousand of tests and assessment that are available for measuring thousands of concepts. You need to narrow your focus to the notion of what you want to know and measure in your clients and students.

This article GUIDELINES FOR SELECTING APPROPRIATE TESTS   describes the various criteria that you should look at when you are considering a particular test or assessment. Read the article.

Answer the items 5-6 on your worksheet.

Steps in Selecting the Right Assessment

The following steps are helpful and important as you select, administer, and interpret an assessment instrument for your client. Each step suggests some questions and issues you should address before selecting and using the instrument with your clients.

Step 1:  Describe your client(s). List/describe their important characteristics such as age, education level, work experience, gender, race/ethnicity, cultural background, primary language, etc. At what stage in the career process is he/she — exploring possibilities, just starting a career, in transition, transferring to a new location, wanting to work for another employer?

Step 2:  Specify the kind of assessment your client needs. What are you trying to find out or determine? Some typical options are interests, values, general abilities, achievement, work readiness, specific job skills, training progress, interpersonal skills, integrity, planning and organizing, communication skills, analytical skills, teamwork, and personality. There are others.

Step 3: Review possible assessments and select those that seem most appropriate for further review. Check resources to see what assessments are available and select some reasonable options to consider.

Step 4:  Obtain and review detailed information on the assessment from the publisher and other sources. Download or send for a sample of the assessment, technical information, interpretation manuals, score reports, and other relevant materials. Read the documents carefully. Read professional reviews conducted on the assessment.  Contact colleagues who have used the assessment for their opinions.

Step 5:  Determine if the assessment meets your client’s needs and assesses what is needed. Did the developers collect test development data on people similar to your subjects? Does the instrument seem to measure what your clients needs or what you want to measure? Is the reading level and language appropriate for your client? Will the client understand how to take the assessment and is comfortable with the process? How is the instrument administered? Is it paper and pencil, computer delivered, hands on, etc. Does it require an administrator or is it self-administered?

Step 6:  Decide whether the assessment is technically sound and gives you and the client the desired information. Stop consideration of the instrument unless the technical support is positive and strong, unless you are developing your own technical information for your clients and desired use. Review the reliability information. Is it sufficiently high to have you believe it is giving you reasonably accurate information? Scrutinize the validity information. Does the publisher/test developer provide credible and significant information that shows that the instrument measures what they say it measures? Does the validity information that is provided convince you that you can interpret the information in the way that is recommended by the publisher? Does the publisher provide information that supports your use of the information with the client? Does the information clearly support that you and you client can make decisions you want to make based on the results?

Step 7:  Determine whether the information provided on the assessment indicates that it is a valid instrument for all/most group characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, primary language, age, etc. Look for technical information that shows that a person can perform well on the assessment regardless of personal and irrelevant group membership.

Step 8: Are there documented accommodations that need to be made that do not invalidate the interpretation of the test results? What effects do the accommodations have on the interpretability of the assessment results?  How related are the desired accommodations to the workplace?

Step 9: Establish whether or not you or your designated administrator has the needed background to purchase, administer the instrument, and interpret the results. Some instruments require certain background and training in order to ethically purchase the instrument, administer it, and interpret the results. Do you meet the requirements? For instruments that are self-administered, does the client have sufficient capability to administer, score, and interpret the results?

Step 10:  Is the administration procedure compatible with your organization and capability? Do you have space and conditions for an individual or group to take the assessment in fashion that promotes achievement rather that provides a barrier? Are the costs for the assessment compatible with your budget? Are there ways you can reduce costs without compromising quality? Are there other agencies with whom you can partner with to save costs and still accomplish your objectives?

Let’s Review.

View this video covers the basic issues that professionals face when they are considering using assessment as part of their work.   

Here is another person’s view about selecting the right assessments.

Read over this document. In trying to decide if an assessment is worthy of your use, this checklist may be helpful.  Download this as a resource available from this course and use it when you are reviewing assessment instruments for possible use in your work. Decision Making Checklist

View this video to see how one counselor decides to use a career assessment. This is not an endorsement of the assessment that is described.

View this video below and think about how this individuals uses assessment in her practice.

Read this article on alternative assessments that you might use in your work. 

Answer items 7-9 on your worksheet.

Assessment Standards

Many organizations have produced standards, ethics statements, and policies that are relevant to career development. These standards are critical for the proper selection and use of assessment in your work.

This document, the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education covers the basic responsibilities of the test publisher and test user. Please read this document and download it for your files.

Answer item 10 on your worksheet.

Here is a link to the joint statement between ADA’s assessment division and the NCDA. Please read this set of standards.

Read the NCDA Code of Ethics Section E on assessment and evaluation.

Once you have completed all the parts of this course, send in your completed worksheet as stated above, and completed the evaluation, you will be issued your certificate for 5 CEU clock hours.


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