26 November 2009

Are All Assessments Tools Valid Internationally?

What would the Dr. Do?

Dispensing expert HR advice from EPSI’s President, the highly respected author André Durivage, Ph.D.

Q: Recently we’ve begun research regarding the purchase and use of new assessment tools to be used within our organization. We’ve expanded our research to Canadian and other International companies; however, we are unsure of whether assessment tools created external to the US are valid under US laws and regulations. Can we use Canadian assessment tools in our American selection processes?

– R.Stephens

A: Great question! The short answer is yes, assessment tools developed in Canada can be used in American processes. Prior to their use there are three particular areas that need to be verified for any assessment tool;

  1. Does the tool assess competencies which are directly linked to the job in terms of tasks and responsibilities?
  2. Is the assessment tool psychometrically valid?
  3. Does the tool create adverse impact by discriminating against certain groups?

Any assessment tool used in a selection process in the US, whether American or Canadian, must adhere to a number of laws and regulations that are enacted through numerous Acts and Commissions such as; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 (as amended in 1972); Tower Amendment to Title VII, Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – 1990 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—1972. Most importantly, the assessment tools must be developed and applied in accordance with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978) 1, which was jointly produced by the EEOC and three other federal agencies—the Civil Service Commission (predecessor of the Office of Personnel Management) and the Labor and Justice Departments. The Uniform Guidelines provide a framework for employers and organization to determine the proper use of tests and selections procedures.

As outlined in the Uniform Guidelines, in order to ensure that an assessment tool directly pertains to a job, a job analysis must be completed and a number of factors examined. To begin with, criterion-related validation requires demonstration of a correlation or other statistical relationship between test performance and job performance. Content-related validation requires a demonstration that the content of the test represents important job-related behaviours. In other words, test items should be relevant and measure directly pertinent requirements and qualifications for the job. Finally, construct-related validation requires a demonstration that the test measures the construct or characteristic it claims to measure, and that this characteristic is important to successful performance on the job.

In order to verify whether assessment tools are psychometrically sound, they should be validated using acceptable professional psychological standards; the Uniform Guidelines outlines the generally accepted professional standards for validating and evaluating standardized tests by referring to the publication, Standards for Psychological testing. The Standards publication was developed jointly by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The term validity “refers to the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores entailed by proposed use of tests.” (1999). In the development of EPSI’s assessment tools and tests we begin by conducting literary reviews, job analyses, and establishing parameters through large sample groups. Various statistical analyses are then completed to verify predictive validity.

In regards to discrimination against certain groups, the Uniform Guidelines require that assessment tools do not create an adverse impact. In other words the use of a tool must not result in a substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decisions that work to the disadvantage of members of a race, sex, or ethnic group. To evaluate this impact the Uniform Guidelines suggest that adverse impact is indicated when the four-fifths or 80% rule is present. This means that the selection rate for one group is less than 80% (4/5) that of another. In order to address this issue, when EPSI establishes norms and rigorously analyses newly developed tools, we ensure to do so using sample groups that accurately represent the cultural and ethnic composition of North America.

Regardless of where you procure your assessment tools, the organization should always be able to provide you with a test manual that details the methods they have used to establish validity and ensure the tools do not create adverse impact. As long as those requirements are satisfied, your organization can use whichever assessment tools fit their organizational objectives, no matter the country in which they were developed.

For further information, visit our innovative assessment tools.

To submit a question to be answered by EPSI’s president Dr. André Durivage, please send an email to info@epsi-inc.com with ‘Question for the Doctor’ clearly marked in the subject line.

United States Department of Labor. (1978) Uniform Guidelines of Employee
Selections Procedures, [On Line]. URL Address:

1 AERA, APA et NCME. Standards for educational and psychological Testing (1999), Washington, AERA Publications, 1999.