Ethics and Standards in Testing
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
Because of the potential for abuse, ethical standards guide the development and application of tests. Numerous professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, have produced documents detailing appropriate technical and professional standards for construction, evaluation, interpretation, and application of psychological tests to promote the welfare and best interests of the client, guard against the misuse of assessment results, respect the client’s right to know the results, and safeguard the dignity of test takers. Psychologists need to obtain informed consent and guarantee confidentiality in personnel testing, for example. Tests should be used for the purpose for which they were designed by professionals trained in their use.
Because some groups (such as African Americans) have tended to score lower on average than other groups (such as European Americans) on intelligence tests and SATs, critics argue that such tests are biased. Since these tests predict school achievement of all races equally well, the major tests are not biased with respect to predictive validity. However, they do seem biased with respect to performance differences resulting from cultural experience. Biologically oriented theorist Arthur Jensen attempted to succeed where Galton failed in developing a culture-free measure of intelligence by measuring reaction time, but his test is inadequate to represent a measure of intelligence. Several attempts at creating culture-reduced tests that measure general intelligence, such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices, have not succeeded in eliminating the difference in mean scores. Culture-relevant tests that incorporate skills and knowledge related to the cultural experiences of the test takers may be more successful.