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Evaluating the Performance Test
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Guide to Good Practices for the Design, Development, and Implementation of Examinations
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Validity


DOE-HDBK-1205-97
6. TEST ANALYSIS
Because tests are used to qualify trainees to do a job or task, it is important that they are
developed properly. If tests are constructed systematically and administered correctly, they
will have a high degree of reliability. The quality and effectiveness of tests should be
continuously monitored and improved where necessary. Analysis of test results provides
important input to the quality and effectiveness of tests. Whereas most instructors and test
developers are not required to perform complicated statistical analyses, an understanding of
some basic concepts is beneficial in interpreting and refining the testing process.
6.1 Reliability
Reliability is functionally defined as the consistency between two separate measurements
of the same thing. If a test gives perfectly consistent results, it would be perfectly reliable.
Reliability is generally not a problem with performance tests as long as conditions in the
evaluation situation remain constant. Reliability can be a problem with written tests
because test item construction can be difficult. Reliability can be affected by ambiguous
test items, multiple correct answers, typographic errors, adverse testing conditions,
interruptions, limited time, and complicated answer sheets. Trainee readiness and scoring
errors also affect test reliability.
The following examples illustrate how reliability or unreliability may be indicated as tests are
analyzed.
Example: Ten trainees were given test A on Monday and then again on Tuesday.
Assuming that nobody forgot anything overnight, the Tuesday test results
should be exactly the same as the Monday test results if test A is reliable.
Any significant difference would indicate test unreliability since nothing changed from
Monday to Tuesday. This is a form of test-retest reliability. The time period for this type of
reliability is variable. Longer time periods generally result in greater differences in test
results, but long time periods can determine the long-term stability of the test.
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