Test Score Posting Policies in the Public Sector

My blog this month deals with what I believe is a complex question that requires deft consideration of the demands of multiple stakeholders and the careful weighing of legal and ethical issues. I am speaking of the question of how does a public sector jurisdiction make decisions regarding the posting of scores both during and after the completion of an assessment or selection project.

As human resource and assessment professionals, we have to resolve the conflict between the equally important values of transparency of feedback to test takers, the privacy rights and expectations of confidentiality held by job or promotional candidates, and the public’s right to know, along with the media’s right to information. Deciding how and what type of information to post can seem like a judgment worthy of Solomon, as the human resource professional must reconcile:

  • the public’s right to information, including possible public record laws;
  • the candidate’s desire for feedback and test score information; and
  • the right of the candidate to privacy and the candidate’s expectation that their scores will be handled in a confidential and sensitive manner.

In my opinion, one of the complicating factors is that the release and posting of test score information has to consider many factors beyond simple psychometric and assessment issues. Some of the factors that must be considered or questions which need to be asked and answered include:

  • Are there federal or state laws that govern the release of public sector employment test information, as well as public records in general?
  • Are there local Civil Service regulations or rules?
  • Does the union contract specify how test results will be issued?
  • Are there past, relevant court decisions?
  • How have we done it in the past? What are the existing precedents?
  • What precedent, if any, do we want to create for future tests?

My own experience has been that every jurisdiction tends to make decisions regarding the posting of and release of a candidates test and score information differently, even within a specific geographic area such as Northeast Ohio. I know of some cities that post in public all the test score information for each candidate, while similar nearby cities post only the final rankings of the test takers.

If at this point you are starting to mumble to yourself, “I fear that Doverspike is not going to give us a simple answer in this blog,” you are correct. However, I am going to share with you some data from a survey conducted by IPMA-HR Assessment Services. Continue reading