High costs make schools wary of psychometric tests on staff

They are not sure of test reliability as responses may be faked

High costs make schools wary of psychometric tests on staff

Schools in the city are biding time and holding discussions on how to implement the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) directions to conduct psychometric evaluation of all teaching and non-teaching staff.

In question is the effectiveness of the test and its affordability, considering that the cost of psychometric evaluation ranges from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per candidate.

M Srinivasan, president of the Management of Independent CBSE Schools Association (MICSA), said, “How many schools will be able to afford the test when the cost for staff strength of 400 could go up to Rs 10 lakh? In spite of this, if we conduct the test, there is no assurance that it is foolproof.”

They are concerned that responses to the test could be faked. With attrition rate among class IV employees being high, schools will have to conduct evaluations every few months, making the exercise a hassle and a drain on the finances. The association, which has about 300 member schools across the state, intends to call a meeting to discuss the matter, once schools reopen after vacation. However, if CBSE insists, they will have no choice but to comply.

To have some level of screening is a good measure, said Dr Bino Thomas, assistant professor of psychiatric social work at Nimhans. The tests are validated, they follow a standardised procedure and could bring some level of clarity on the personality of employees. However, he said it would not guarantee against crimes in schools.

“People who commit such crimes are not serial criminals. They act in certain situations. A person could pass the test and still commit crimes,“ Thomas said.

Some kind of deviant behaviour such as narcissism and short temper can be identified. “But it is not clear how to rule out candidates based on this, because there is not enough research on what kind of personalities tend to commit crimes against children,” he said. Since the test is based on responses, it can be faked as well, he said.

Mettl, a firm in Gurugram, Haryana, which conducts personality assessments for recruiters, has been receiving enquiries from schools all over the country, including Karnataka, after CBSE issued the circular last month.

Ankit Bansal, business head of its education vertical, said faking the test is not easy and one can often get caught.

“Candidates have to choose from responses such as ‘agree’, ‘strongly disagree’, ‘neutral’ and so on. If they give answers which are socially desirable too often, it shows up in the result. Moreover, we ask the same question presented in different ways. It is unlikely that they will be able to keep track of their responses and inconsistencies will be caught by the system,“ he said.

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