Three weeks ago, I asked the City’s Personnel Director, Rick Frank, to reconsider his decision to throw out the first phase of the recent firefighters’ entrance exam. I asked him to do so in order to balance a series of competing concerns: a test that identified the best qualified future firefighters, a test that fairly tested all candidates’ aptitudes, and a test that would pass legal muster. I wanted a test that would do all those things.
I asked that the same questions be put to the testing company and to the Law Department.
Given the near-certainty (and expense) of having to defend the test’s results in court, I wanted the final decision — to use the test or to find a new one to be a consensus.
The company that devised the test thought it was a good measure of qualification; the City’s top lawyer, who would ultimately have to argue the test in court, thought that its results were defensible. However, Rick — after re-examining the preliminary result — told me that he would still not be able argue that this was the best and fairest test the City could offer.