Testing Column

November 27, 1991 2 min read

Despite growing national interest in testing, the number of trained psychometricians appears to be dwindling, a leading researcher has warned.

Speaking at an annual conference sponsored by the Educational Testing Service, R. Darrell Bock, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, noted that few psychology students are entering quantitative programs.

“I see mounting evidence that the number of mathematically prepared college students entering graduate programs is dwindling alarmingly,” Mr. Bock said.

In the 1987-88 academic year, he noted, only 46 of the 4,000 students who entered psychology programs went into quantitative studies. In 197475, by contrast, 80 students went into such programs.

As a way out of the situation, Mr. Bock proposed that universities create departments of sociostatistics in graduate schools of social science and public policy. He also suggested that statistics programs include coursework in psychometrics.

Using new technology, the Educational Testing Service has developed a way to prevent fraud in its test administered to foreign students who want to study in the United States.

In the past, according to E.T.S. officials, some students registering to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language--often required for admission to U.S. colleges-have hired impostors to take the test for them.

To curb such practices, officials from the testing firm have perfected a system that would place a computerized photograph of the test taker on the score report. Under such a method, college-admissions officers could check to see if the person enrolling was the same one who took the test.

Currently, “when you show up for admission, [the college] takes your word you are who you say you are,” said Kevin Gonzalez, a spokesman for the E.T.S."That’s where the impersonation problems are occurring.”

Mr. Gonzalez said the firm had no plans to use the system on any of the other tests it administers, including the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

To help guide superintendents through the morass of testing and assessment and the current debates on their uses, the American Association of School Administrators has published a “critical issues” report.

The 102-page publication also offers guidelines for developing tests and publicizing their results.

Copies of “The Changing Face of Testing and Assessment” are available for $14.95 each, plus $3.50 for postage and handling, from A.A.s.A. Publications, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, Va. 22209-9988.

A version of this article appeared in the November 27, 1991 edition of Education Week as Testing Column