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Judith Hale

Great test design depends on a shared understanding of competence.

Competence: It’s All About Context!

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Great test design for performance-based exams depends on a shared understanding of competence.

Competence is doing meaningful work to standard under normal conditions. Agreeing on what is normal is where the hang up is. Normal assumes agreement on the uniformity and diversity of both work tasks and the workplace environment. People with the same job title may or may not do the same tasks even in the same company. They certainly do not share the same workplace environment if they work in different locations or for different bosses.

Rob Foshay, Ph.D., in their research on emerging best practices in the private sector discusses the rising interest in performance-based tests to measure competence. Part of that interest is fueled by the evidence that performance-based tests have higher fidelity (they more fully reflect the workplace environment) and; therefore, can demonstrate greater external integrity (passing correlates with something important to the organization). For example, is there a correlation between the number of people who pass the test and those who do well on the job, stay in the job longer, or have fewer cost overruns or missed deadlines?

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