TABLE 3-2 Approximate Relationship Between Education and Attrition



High School Dropout



No (0)

Yes (1)


No (0)




Yes (1)



regression coefficient is only .2. The relationship nevertheless justifies an enlistment standard that restricts nongraduates because of the costs of replacing and retraining recruits who leave military service within one or two years. This cost trade-off approach is discussed further in the next section.

Continuing with the examples of education and aptitude standards, the validity of education standards has been established by correlating education levels with first-term attrition rates, as in Table 3-2. The validation of aptitude standards with on-the-job performance outcomes required a massive original data collection effort that took place over a period of nearly 10 years (National Research Council, 1991).

Even assuming that attrition rates are being used as the outcome for a particular standard, reliable entry data cannot be assumed in the case of many medical conditions, which rely on self-report by military applicants. Moreover, some medical conditions observable during the physical exam may be missed. So the availability and reliability of physical and medical conditions at entry cannot be assumed, and obtaining good data may require special prospective studies and data collection such as that being carried out at AMSARA. Of particular interest here are special longitudinal studies being conducted by the Services, such as the Army Research Institute study of the 1999 cohort (McCloy and Putka, 2004).

Special job performance assessment may be appropriate for certain physical conditions such as obesity and fitness. For example, it may be possible to track BMI measurements or fitness test performance as enlistees move through the first term to determine whether entry condition predicts later levels of BMI and fitness. It also may be possible to collect data on the unit commander’s evaluation of an enlistee’s physical fitness or related characteristics.

Special prospective studies would be necessary to evaluate changing a standard that now causes automatic disqualification. Of course, this depends on whether there are any conditions at the present time that experts feel should not be disqualifying.

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