BACKGROUND

In reaching the conclusions expressed in the 1989 report, the committee 's underlying assumption was that the federal government has a legitimate and historical commitment to increased economic efficiency and productivity and an equally strong commitment to equality of employment opportunity and the reduction of adverse impact in hiring, promotion, and allocation of economic resources. Controversy over the GATB arises in large part as a result of the clash between these objectives: although use of GATB can bring about modest gains in efficiency, it can also produce high levels of adverse impact.

Because of the significant differences in GATB performance across racial and ethnic groups, the 1989 report found that GATB would produce substantial adverse impact against some groups if referrals were made in strict rank order. The 1989 report argued that the test' s modest and declining validities should be weighed against the adverse impact produced by reliance on test scores in reaching a decision about the appropriateness of using the test. The differential impact of selection error would be somewhat lessened if the test had significantly greater predictive validity. The committee concluded that potential benefits from using the test, in terms of increased efficiency in screening and selection of qualified personnel, did not justify the high costs of using the test, measured in terms of the discrepancies in hiring that would place members of certain racial and ethnic groups at a significant disadvantage in comparison with equally able members of the white majority applicant population.

Therefore, recommendations in the 1989 report concerning improvements and revisions to the GATB were predicated on empirical evidence regarding the test's predictive validities; on empirical evidence regarding differences in test performance across various applicant groups; and on the assumption that score adjustments (based on performance) were an acceptable and scientifically valid method of giving equally able minority and majority applicants roughly equal referral chances, with only negligible effects on efficiency and productivity.

The 1991 Civil Rights Act fundamentally altered the legal landscape for GATB policy. By outlawing within-group score adjustments, Congress effectively challenged the Department of Labor and the human resources research community to reevaluate GATB--and selection testing generally--and explore the possibility of devising tests that do not themselves cause adverse impact. It is important to underscore that neither the 1989 committee report nor the department's GATB improvement plan (which began to be developed shortly after the 1989 report was released) anticipated the changes in the legal environment brought about by the 1991 Act.

Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act can be seen as a challenge to the human resource policy and research community to reshape employment testing. Employers generally, and government agencies specifically, can respond to that challenge by conducting collaborative research on job-related competencies and by developing alternative approaches to selection that result in substantially reduced or no adverse impact.

The Board on Testing and Assessment finds that these factors must be taken into consideration in evaluating the technical adequacy of the improvement plan, and we



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Evaluation of the U.S. Employment Service Workplan for the GATB Improvement Project BACKGROUND In reaching the conclusions expressed in the 1989 report, the committee 's underlying assumption was that the federal government has a legitimate and historical commitment to increased economic efficiency and productivity and an equally strong commitment to equality of employment opportunity and the reduction of adverse impact in hiring, promotion, and allocation of economic resources. Controversy over the GATB arises in large part as a result of the clash between these objectives: although use of GATB can bring about modest gains in efficiency, it can also produce high levels of adverse impact. Because of the significant differences in GATB performance across racial and ethnic groups, the 1989 report found that GATB would produce substantial adverse impact against some groups if referrals were made in strict rank order. The 1989 report argued that the test' s modest and declining validities should be weighed against the adverse impact produced by reliance on test scores in reaching a decision about the appropriateness of using the test. The differential impact of selection error would be somewhat lessened if the test had significantly greater predictive validity. The committee concluded that potential benefits from using the test, in terms of increased efficiency in screening and selection of qualified personnel, did not justify the high costs of using the test, measured in terms of the discrepancies in hiring that would place members of certain racial and ethnic groups at a significant disadvantage in comparison with equally able members of the white majority applicant population. Therefore, recommendations in the 1989 report concerning improvements and revisions to the GATB were predicated on empirical evidence regarding the test's predictive validities; on empirical evidence regarding differences in test performance across various applicant groups; and on the assumption that score adjustments (based on performance) were an acceptable and scientifically valid method of giving equally able minority and majority applicants roughly equal referral chances, with only negligible effects on efficiency and productivity. The 1991 Civil Rights Act fundamentally altered the legal landscape for GATB policy. By outlawing within-group score adjustments, Congress effectively challenged the Department of Labor and the human resources research community to reevaluate GATB--and selection testing generally--and explore the possibility of devising tests that do not themselves cause adverse impact. It is important to underscore that neither the 1989 committee report nor the department's GATB improvement plan (which began to be developed shortly after the 1989 report was released) anticipated the changes in the legal environment brought about by the 1991 Act. Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act can be seen as a challenge to the human resource policy and research community to reshape employment testing. Employers generally, and government agencies specifically, can respond to that challenge by conducting collaborative research on job-related competencies and by developing alternative approaches to selection that result in substantially reduced or no adverse impact. The Board on Testing and Assessment finds that these factors must be taken into consideration in evaluating the technical adequacy of the improvement plan, and we