BPS launched the new EFPA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications structure on the 5th of September 2011. Since then, all verified training providers who affirm the competence of training course delegates will effectively indicate which EFPA certificate should be awarded. EFPA Level 1 is the Assistant Test User qualification will be the equivalent to the old BPS Test Administration certificate. At EFPA Level 2 we have the EFAP Test User Ability and Test User Personality Certificates which replace the BPS Level A and B (Intermediate) certificates respectively. Also EFPA Test User Personality (Additional Instrument) Certificate replaces BPS Level B (Intermediate) Plus. At Level 3 the EFPA Specialist Test User Certificate will replace the BPS Level B Full Certificate. So, what are the real substantive differences between the old and new qualifications?
Well, there are differences, but not as many as you might expect. And those differences are quite subtle. The EFPA syllabus is based very closely on the BPS Level A & B Syllabus. Perhaps the differences can be seen as an ‘update’ of the Level A & B syllabus to reflect developments in testing and testing technology since the original course was designed. I’ll outline at a broad level the key changes rather than provide extensive details here.
The old syllabus focussed purely on Classical Test Theory in its approach to testing (sometimes called True Score Theory). But the EFPA syllabus moves a step further and includes a requirement to understand the basic principles of Item Response Theory (IRT). Sometimes called ‘Strong True Score Theory’ IRT is based on mathematical models which focus on the properties of each test item (question). I’ll not take space here expanding on the theory further, but IRT enables advances in testing such as Computer Adaptive Testing. (It is this very technology which sits behind AdaptG – Psytech’s new adaptive test to be launched in UK shortly).
But a significant change is the acceptance of the use of computers in other areas of testing. Whereas Level A and B required only manual interpretation skills, EFPA permits the use of computer scoring and computer generated reporting in the demonstration of competence in ability and personality test use. Further, new elements of competence require an understanding of the ITC (International Test Commission) defined ‘Modes of Test Administration’, these being, Open, Controlled, Supervised and Managed Modes.
But it is the move towards permitting computer interpretation in the demonstration of competence which might be both helpful to delegates but perhaps also carries some risks? By relying on computer interpretation, do test users develop analytical and test use skills as fully as under the old regime? Perhaps this approach matches the trends demonstrated by some test publishers in the permitting of untrained users to access tests and their outputs where administration is done at a distance by the test provider and ‘solutions’ based reports are computer generated and require no interpretation skills by the user. This is perhaps a little ironic because such a move might be seen as the start of a slippery slope whereby tests can eventually be used without any qualifications at all? But that can be the subject of another blog article!!
Psytech International have today been certified to provide EFPA Level 1, level 2 and Level 3 training courses (http://www.genesysonline.net/blog/?p=159)