Public Safety Promotional Testing

Linking Standards to Job Requirements

Promotional Testing

In today’s complex global environment, being an effective leader requires more than knowing the rules and possessing the ability to do the job — law enforcement professionals must also possess the necessary personal characteristics to succeed at the next level. PSI provides comprehensive promotion testing services to obtain a complete understanding of the qualities of your promotion candidates. We have provided services for:

  • every rank up to Chief
  • over 2,200 candidates for a single job title
  • as many as 7 promotion ranks simultaneously
  • personnel in State, municipal and county agencies

We identify the most qualified individuals for the job while ensuring compliance with all professional and legal guidelines.

Our hallmarks include:

  • using multiple forms of assessment
  • conducting rigorous test development, review and scoring procedures
  • providing extensive information to prepare candidates for the testing experience and to provide feedback on their performance
  • taking significant steps to preserve the integrity and security of our examination processes
  • adopting a multi-faceted approach to minimize adverse impact based on subgroup membership

Technical Knowledge Tests

Understanding and correctly applying relevant laws, policies and procedures is critical to effective performance as a law enforcement supervisor. PSI’ tests include 100-150 multiple-choice items in a closed-book (memorization) and/or open-book (look-up) format to better simulate how information is accessed on the job. These tests are most often used for first-line and mid-level supervisory ranks and are customized to the specific job documents used by law enforcement personnel in each agency.

Illustrative Technical Knowledge Assessed

Internal Field Policies

  • Internal Administrative Policies
  • Criminal Statutes
  • Municipal Codes
  • Emergency Preparedness Procedures
  • Supervisory/Management Textbooks

Written Work Samples

Prioritizing and responding to daily events and issues in a written format is an integral part of supervisory and management positions. PSI’ tests require candidates to provide multiple-choice or essay style responses to simulated field incidents and administrative issues to assess their ability to perform the job duties at the next higher rank. These tests place the candidate in the role of the position they seek and incorporate them into a fictitious organization designed to closely resemble their own. Test materials are customized to reflect the specific issues, practices and procedures of relevance to each agency. Common issues include civilian complaints, employee performance or disciplinary problems, policy meetings, immediate and long-term staffing issues, etc.

Illustrative Supervisory/Managerial Abilities Assessed

  • Written Expression
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Information Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Resource Management

Oral Work Samples

Being an effective supervisor or manager requires more than “book smarts”; candidates must be able to effectively manage real world situations requiring interactions with others. PSI’ oral work sample simulations are designed to assess the supervisory and managerial abilities of candidates at all promotion ranks. Trained assessors observe candidate performance in simulated subordinate counseling sessions, incident command scenarios, witness interviews, meetings with community groups, internal policy/program development meetings, critical incident reviews and structured interviews. Test materials are customized to reflect the specific issues, practices and procedures of relevance to each agency.

Illustrative Supervisory/Managerial Abilities Assessed

  • Oral Expression
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Information Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Resource Management

Career Review Boards

Candidates’ work history, past performance, and job-related training and development can be rich sources of information for assessing promotion potential. The problem with such information is that it is not typically evaluated in a standardized manner and is therefore considered suspect by candidates. PSI’ career review board process applies basic testing principles to provide the necessary structure and standardization. Using a pre-defined format and common set of standards, trained assessors evaluate candidates’ personal characteristics and competencies based on candidates’ personnel files, oral resume presentations and responses to follow-up questions.

Illustrative Personal Characteristics

  • Motivation
  • Initiative
  • Attention to Duty
  • Adaptability
  • Professional Development
  • Supervisory Readiness

Test Development and Review

PSI will design all assessment tools for you. Over the past 20 years, we have developed a detailed set of guidelines for the development and review of test items and work sample scenarios/content. All items and work sample scenarios developed and reviewed by PSI undergo a series of steps to ensure:

  • Technical accuracy to ensure that the test material accurately reflects the job knowledge and operations and conforms to professional item/scenario construction guidelines
  • Cultural fairness to ensure that no candidate subgroup is at an advantage or disadvantage
  • Appropriate reading level to ensure that the reading demands of the test material do no exceed those on the job
  • Job relevance/organizational appropriateness to ensure that the material tested reflects important elements and requirements of the job and is consistent with current practice

Given our experience and expertise, we are confident that we can develop assessment tools for your agency that meet your needs and objectives while complying with all technical, professional and legal guidelines.

Candidate Preparation

PSI recognizes that just as world-class athletes work with personal trainers to prepare for competition, today’s public safety professionals invest large amounts of personal time and energy preparing for promotional assessments. Providing detailed information regarding the content and logistics of each examination component helps ensure equal access to all candidates when they prepare for and take the examination, thereby representing an effective step toward the reduction of adverse impact. Agencies that acknowledge the commitment of their candidates and recognize the importance of ensuring equal access to information often see an increase not only in the caliber of candidates, but also in the general force. Formal candidate preparation programs minimize superficial performance differences, such as mistakes made because of being unfamiliar with a type of test, careless errors, or improperly allocating study time based on rumor and/or “others’ experiences.”

Our recommended program includes a detailed description of the examination content and logistics, strategies that candidates can use to enhance examination (and job) performance, and sample items/scenarios and suggested responses. We feel so strongly about candidate preparation that a comprehensive, self-paced written Candidate Preparation Guide is a standard element of all of our testing processes. This guide can be placed on your local website to facilitate easy access for candidates and eliminate costs associated with printing and mailing. Additional on-site orientation or tutorial programs also are available upon request.

Test Administration Services

Efficiency, security and standardization are the primary test administration goals PSI will help you achieve. PSI staff will work closely with your agency to develop the most efficient administrative system to best meet your needs. We will provide you with an administrative manual, train test administrators and supervise or assist in administration as desired. We have conducted the most complicated assessment processes including a process involving over 2,200 written testing candidates participating in 8 different locations simultaneously and over 1,200 oral assessment candidates participating in 4 different locations simultaneously.

PSI conducts all assessor training sessions. Upon request, PSI will assume responsibility for assessor and facility acquisition, logistics and expenses.

We fully recognize the security concerns faced by public safety agencies involved in testing and follow a prescribed set of steps to preserve the integrity of our testing processes including:

  • having all project participants (subject matter experts, assessors) sign confidentiality agreements
  • arranging for the secure transport and storage of test materials preceding, during and following test administration
  • numbering and counting all test material before, during, and following test administration
  • training test monitors on appropriate test material accounting procedures, and
  • prohibiting candidates from using electronic communication devices at test sites
  • In short, our processes and past experience indicates that we can ensure the security of your assessment materials.

Test Scoring Services

PSI’ recognizes the importance of delivering accurate, timely and informative score information to enable agencies to proceed with promotion decisions and dispel any myths candidates may have about the scoring process.
Our team of data analysts follows extensive data verification procedures to ensure score accuracy. These procedures include:

  • visually inspecting all computer scan sheets for any irregularities that must be rectified
  • scanning all data twice and resolving any discrepancies manually
  • hand-scoring a subset of scores on each list to confirm the accuracy of the computer scoring process.

In addition to producing accurate and timely test results for use in making promotion decisions, providing candidates with detailed score information and performance feedback are also important to the agency’s continued employee development efforts. Extensive individual score reports are prepared for each candidate and include:

  • a detailed explanation of the process used to derive candidates’ scores
  • a summary of the performance of all candidates for comparison purposes
  • a detailed score report presenting candidates’ overall scores, test component scores, and scores on elements (e.g., abilities, exercises) within each test
  • narrative feedback and developmental suggestions.

Career-focused candidates can use this information to modify their performance in future testing situations and more importantly, in their current and future jobs.

We provide highly tailored leadership and promotional processes for virtually all job levels of public safety, including police sergeant, police captain, police lieutenant, fire lieutenant, fire captain and chief fire officer. Given our size and vast in-house resources, we are uniquely capable of managing multiple entry-level and promotional assessment initiatives simultaneously.