City personnel director Rick Frank has cancelled the results of a recent exam that would have begun the process of hiring some new firefighters. Not every person who passed this test would have qualified to become a firefighter, but no one who failed it would ever have had the opportunity to join our Fire Department.
The personnel department cancelled the results of the test, which was devised by a company brought to the personnel department by Chief Sherman George, because Rick found that this specific test had an “unusually” low rate of passage. He currently thinks that just 30 percent of the applicants received passing grades in some general education subjects like reading comprehension and simple mathematics. For any test-giver, this level of failure if correct signals some fundamental problem — and, these days, is a pretty good predictor of litigation.
Most of the ambitious young men and women who took a test that required mastery of some fundamental skills failed it, despite having arrived at the testing center with at least a high school diploma. A high failure rate, then, may be indicative of the aptitude of the test takers, the inadequacy of their education, or some flaw in the test or its methodology.
So, Rick is going to offer another test — just as rigorous as this test, but skipping the video screen format that this test used and replacing it with more traditional pencil and paper materials. If the same applicants fail it, Rick will have a better idea of what the problem is — and is not.