Supporting Internally Developed Minimum Qualifications

Part two of a three-part series on the topic of Validating Minimum Qualifications.

The previous article focused on the content validity model as a tool for developing and supporting minimum qualifications. That discussion focused primarily on establishing minimal levels of education, training and experience. However; it is important to recognize that there are other requirements that go beyond education and experience requirements such licenses, certificates, age, and U. S. citizenship. Many of the additional requirements placed on job classes are established by law and therefore are externally imposed, which distinguishes them from qualifications that are internally developed and imposed

This article will focus on support for internally developed and imposed minimum qualifications. The next article in the series will put together all the components of the application screening process to maximize its effectiveness which goes hand in hand with its reliability and validity.

Reviewing some of the articles available online that address the issue of validating minimum qualifications and court decisions regarding the content validity approach to establishing minimum qualifications suggests that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that courts have accepted the content validity approach as an acceptable methodology for establishing minimum qualifications. The bad news is that they have done so when this model has incorporated further proofs of the validity of the minimum qualifications. This further proof may prove to be a challenge for smaller jurisdictions with limited staffs and expertise.

In reviewing the literature, I uncovered a paper that was presented at the Mid-Atlantic Personnel Assessment Consortium in Philadelphia in 2005 by Will Martin from the New York State Department of Civil Service, which is titled KSA Based Minimum Qualifications – Development/Interpretation Information and Guidelines, and an article published in Personnel Psychology in September 2005 by Buster, Maury A.; Roth, Philip L.; and Bobko, Philip. That article is titled, A Process for Content Validation of Education and Experience-Based Minimum Qualifications; an Approach Resulting in Federal Court Approval. While the paper delivered by Will Martin at MAPAC is available online in its entirety, the article published in Personnel Psychology has only its abstract available online, in part because it is in essence a literature search and introduction the authors completed to support their process which combines content validity with an additional step first reported by Levine, Maye, Ulm, and Gordon (1997). Options to review the complete report, including their methodology for supporting content validation of minimum qualifications, is available at the link above by clicking the “article” tab.

Reviewing each of these articles online has value. The MAPAC paper is quite extensive in detailing a comprehensive methodology for establishing minimum qualifications that would be defensible from a content validity point of view. The Personnel Psychology article then moves forward showing how the content validity model has fared in legal challenges. Ultimately, the article indicates that the courts have upheld the content validity methodology for establishing minimum qualifications when combined with the secondary support designed originally by Levine (et al.) and then improved upon by the authors of the article. The introductory paragraph to that article clearly explains the purpose of the study and the intent of their process:

In this article, we present a method of content-validating MQs that is related to a procedure noted by Levine, Maye, Ulm, and Gordon (1997), and we demonstrate the method’s application for an upper-level management position in a state agency. Our procedure is based on adherence to the Uniform Guidelines and sound professional practice. In addition, the procedure was heard in a federal court proceeding (deposition and expert testimony in relation to 3 jobs), was approved by that court, and we discuss the court’s findings. In particular, the court found, “The MQ development process used by the State Personnel Department (SPD) is consistent with the requirements of the Guidelines and leads to content-valid MQs.” Given data available to us for another job, we also show that the obtained MQs may result in less adverse impact than a previously determined, task-based set of MQs.

As stated before, this article provides an overview of the literature supporting the content validity model for establishing minimum qualifications and while it has value, the average practitioner may not have the time or the resources to incorporate their entire process in every day practice.

Some of the key points in the MAPAC paper support the first article on establishing minimum qualifications. In particular, the article emphasizes the importance of focusing on entry-level minimum qualifications. While class specifications in themselves should include the knowledge, skills and abilities required at full performance, the focus of establishing minimum qualifications needs to be on those required at entry. The article also emphasizes linking the KSA’s to the minimum qualifications and ultimately back to the job duties. The article goes on to stress the importance of establishing structure for minimum qualifications statements and equivalency equations. Both of these were touched upon in the original article and are critical for consistency, which is prerequisite to ensuring the application screening process is valid. The article also stresses the importance of defining terms, which again supports communication and consistency both of which have implications for training to support consistency. We will address this further in the next article.

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