2.2.8.a. Test-taking procedure: responsibility
When the psychologist who is conducting an assessment makes use of psychodiagnostic instruments, they must ensure that these are administered correctly. However, if different professionals led by the psychologist are involved in the assessment, the psychologist is also responsible for a clear division of labour, which is included in the file. In this division of labour, it is clear in any case who is responsible for:
- the phrasing of the assessment question and the examination procedure that is followed,
- the various administrations of the test,
- the scoring and the scoring program,
- the interpretation,
- reporting to the principal and the follow-up discussion(s).
The psychologist who performs the assessment is in charge of, and is professionally responsible for, the entire administration of the test, and for scoring, interpreting, and reporting on it. Even when others under the authority and direct supervision of the psychologist administer elements of this procedure, the psychologist remains responsible for the quality of this work (see Article 32, “Responsibility for the quality of employees”). This means, for example, that the psychologist also guarantees the quality of the work done by test assistants. Giving proper instructions, and facilitating the appropriate administration of the test, are important here – see BOX 9.
Responsibility for the proper administration of psychodiagnostic instruments also applies even if whoever is giving the test opts to do so with the help of a computer. The psychologist ensures that the psychodiagnostic instruments and the software are aligned with the terms of the assessment question and that these are transparent to them. If automated reporting is used, the psychologist must ascertain how the calculation of test scores has taken place (see 2.3.1, “Parts of the psychological report”).
BOX 9: Responsibility for administering the test
Psychologist X examines a 10-year-old girl, and wants to measure her intelligence with an intelligence test. The parents ask whether the test can be taken at home. Psychologist X delegates the administration of the test to their intern, a fourth-year Psychology student with limited experience administering it. The intern administers the test in the living room of the client’s house, and once it has been taken, reports the scores to psychologist X. Psychologist X interprets the scores and concludes in their report that the client is of average intelligence. Later the client’s mother says it was nice that the test could be taken at home, in a nice, cosy atmosphere – that she could bring in some goodies now and again, and that an older brother, who was also in the living room, was able to help out with the tough questions.
It is also worth noting that the psychologist should see to it that it is the client who responds to the items and that they do this on their own, without help from anyone else. The latter is also a point of concern when test material is administered digitally, including online, without proctoring (supervision). The Code stipulates that the psychologist is professionally responsible for choosing methods that are effective and efficient, while also recognising their limitations (see Article 101, “Use of effective and efficient methods”). When these conditions are not guaranteed, the psychometric quality of the relevant psychodiagnostic instrument comes into question. This means that, thanks to help from, or distractions caused by, others, test scores can be higher or lower than they should be, and that there is no valid picture of the characteristic that one wants to measure in the person being tested. Even the reliability of test scores is at stake, because, if the test is taken again later on without distractions, scores will presumably differ from the previous scores. Finally, this example illustrates how important it is for the psychologist to give proper instructions to test assistants, and to debrief them to establish whether there have been any irregularities. The fact is, the psychologist is responsible for the quality of the work done by those who carry it out under their direct supervision, such as the intern in this example (see Article 32, “Responsibility for the quality of employees”). The psychologist should also support these people in such a way that they can carry out the work professionally and ethically (see Article 33, “Help and support for fellow psychologists, students and supervisees”).
When it comes to the administration of the test, the set-up of the test situation must meet the following conditions:
- The testing is set up by the psychologist or under their responsibility.
- The testing procedure referred to by the author, as stated in the manual, is adhered to – as regards, for example, the way it is administered and the circumstances involved, the instructions given to the test taker, the sequence in which the testing is done, the completeness of the testing, the use of a computer, the insertion of interviews and practice exercises, and any other requirements. A number of these aspects are explained in more detail below.