As follow-up to their January complaint that the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is inappropriately using the national licensing exam as a single hurdle, resulting in discrimination against Blacks and other minorities, a group of psychologists have submitted a position statement to the Board.
In the statement, the psychologists give seven ethical and legal points, and argue that using the EPPP is not only illegal but also inherently discriminatory,” and that, “The test is racist, and its use must be restricted.”
In one conclusion they write, “The State Board must immediately offer an alternative path for licensing that relies on either a reduced cutoff score OR specific board supervision for individuals who are so marred by systemic racism that they perform poorly on standardized tests.”
In January, the psychologists, Drs. William Costelloe, Julie Nelson, and Marc Zimmermann, business psychologists who have extensive experience with high stakes selection testing in the private sector, submitted “A Request for Investigation,” stating that members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists are operating outside of their area of competence in regard to selection–testing and racial discrimination. The request was rejected by the Board. In a letter dated March 7, Ms. Jaime Monic, the Executive Director, said that the members do not have jurisdiction over themselves. Also, she said, they are not engaged in the practice of psychology as board members.
However, they are open to reviewing this issue, Ms. Monic wrote. She said to send any information and they would review it. The psychologists have sent several documents.
In the most recent position statement, authors wrote:
“We have seven ethical and even legal concerns regarding the current Psychology licensing procedures and how they affect Black psychologists, other people of color, and many others from historically disenfranchised groups. These criticisms are noted explicitly for Black psychologists. They may also apply to people from linguistic, cultural, and religious minorities, including people who identify as nonbinary.
“First, although we are not lawyers, we note the overwhelming psychometric and legal problems with the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This test is used in all 50 states (though not Puerto Rico), and states use a criterion of 500 to pass. The test relies on content validity alone with no evidence of other validities. As Sharpless (2018) noted in a review, “It is unknown if scores are associated with relevant performance criteria” (p. 161). While this was acceptable in the 1980s (Kane, 1981), it is not acceptable now, as Kane (2016) notes.
“There is no evidence that the test predicts competency, adequacy, or professionalism. We are unaware of any evidence published in peer review sources that currently link this test to the objective performance criteria of licensed, professional psychologists.
Quite ironically, and perhaps hypocritically, the standards required of our profession for testing others, for example, in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, are not applied to psychologists when they must regulate themselves. These include what courts consider minimally necessary: test stability, evidence of findings in peer-reviewed publications, and predictive error rate.
“Beyond this, in Griggs v. Duke Power, the Supreme Court ruled that if employment-related tests had a disparate impact on protected groups (illustrated below), the organization requiring the test must prove that the test in use is “reasonably related” to the duties performed on the job. There is no peer-reviewed evidence that the EPPP is reasonably related to the responsibilities of practicing psychologists. There is no published evidence that it measures skill knowledge and much less skills competency.”
According to the June minutes from the Board, “Dr. Gibson reported that additional information has been sent to the Board, by the individuals raising concerns about the use of the EPPP. Dr. Gibson recommended that a committee be formed to comprehensively study the concerns addressed in the complaint about the EPPP and its bias against minority populations and that in order to avoid the perception of bias, board members with close ties to ASPPB should not be members of the committee.”