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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Application of Standardized Tests in the US Army

Application of Standardized Tests in the US Army

Standardized Tests in the US Army
After World War II, the US Army instituted its Soldier Qualification Test (SQT) to test the knowledge of all recruits (U.S. Department of the Army, 2009).  The SQT is taken yearly by all members in the enlisted ranks in the US Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corp.  The SQT was supplemented with tests after training exercises.  In approximately 1990, the US Army stopped using the test due to budget constraints.  The cost of maintenance and implementation of the SQT were determined to be an expendable commitment of resources.  Cancellation of the SQT program left a void in the US Army’s capabilities for certifying a soldier’s qualifications for job assignment based on performance on the test, and was supplemented by the AFQT.

The U.S. Army is currently in the process of developing a cost-effective standardized test with which to determine the capabilities of recruits to perform the changing jobs and organizational structures expected with the transformation toward the Future Force US Department of the Army, (1999).
A battery of standardized tests is administered for varying purposes by all branches of the Armed Forces (Department of Defense, 2008). Department of Defense information releases state that the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) is a part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) (2009).  The ASVAB is a standardized multiple-choice test administered to enlistees by the US Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM).

The test is used to determine needed qualification for a person to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. A high school student in the eleventh grade is eligible to take the ASVAB, and is also given to anyone who is eligible and wants to enlist in the US Armed Forces (US Department of the Army, 2009. The Army subsequently designed a program that would allow young people who have been out high school for at least six months to enlist in the Army without a GED or high school diploma.

The Army’s GED Plus program allows a young person to enlist in the delayed entry program.  Before they enter the Army, they must complete the GED Plus program and pass the GED test, all of which is paid for by the Army.

Standardized Test: Predictability

Test Predictability

The ability of a test to predict is known as validity.  Murray and Herrstein (1994) pointed out two fallacies with standardized tests as they relate to African American and Caucasian groups.  Tests can under-predict the performance of African American students in college, as indicated in a SAT example examined by the researchers.

A low score would lead to the conclusion that the student would be a low achiever in college.  Murray and Herrstein argued that adding an appropriate number of points is offered as an acceptable method to breach the gap for the Black applicants who find themselves in these circumstances.  No justification exists for using this method of compensation of scores.  Use of this method of social promotion for African American students indicates the fallacy of the entire process of testing regarding its measurement or predictability.

Murray and Herrstein (1994) discussed an example of standardized tests used to select Police Sergeants.  The assessment had excellent predictability for Caucasian candidates.  Caucasian applicants who performed satisfactorily on the test also performed satisfactorily in the position as Police Sergeant.  African American applicants who performed satisfactorily on the assessment did not perform satisfactorily as Police Sergeant.  The assessment was deemed not valid and reliable regarding the African American population.

The outcome can be interpreted to mean the test predicted fairly accurately for Caucasians, but failed to predict with any level of accuracy how African Americans applicants would perform in the position.  The researchers concluded that the natural remedy would be to give less weight to the test scores of African Americans than to Caucasians (Murray & Herrstein, 1994).

A seminar held at Howard University was intended to debate the issue of whether the African American mind was genetically inferior.  The seminar was in response to Murray and Herrstein’s (1994) book, The Bell Curve, wherein they contended that African Americans achieve lower standardized tests scores because they are genetically inferior and therefore possess an inferior mind not as mentally capable as that of Caucasians.
One of the guest panelists from Howard University, Washington, D.C., was asked that if standardized tests fail to truly measure intelligence, could there be another motive for the purpose and function of them.  The panelist agreed that the tests serve as an additional tactic of exclusion, and stated that tests could not measure intelligence because intelligence cannot be defined.

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