Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Ten Years of Experience with a Performance-Based Promotional Selection and Career Development System within State Government

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Ten Years of Experience with a Performance-Based Promotional Selection and Career Development System within State Government

Article excerpt

In 1982, the New York State Division of the Budget (DOB) decided to replace its promotional selection procedure for journeyman budget examiners and upper-level managers. The Division wished to change from content-based written and oral examinations to a comprehensive promotional selection and career development system based on individual performance and experience. It also wanted the new system to allow for decentralized administration.

As the foremost reason for the change, DOB management cited the apparently weak relationship between the results of traditional exams and job performance. High scores on these exams frequently did not, in their view, predict outstanding results after promotion. Another reason cited was the difficulty management faced in designing career development activities based on traditional exam results. The content of the exams varied greatly. Failure on one exam provided little insight into preparation for subsequent exams since material on one exam might or might not appear on the next. As a result, the DOB could not, with confidence, counsel employees planning a career in the Division on how to improve their exam scores and thus qualify for advancement.

With these concerns in mind, the Division contracted with Pace University to provide research and design expertise in developing the performance-based system. The Civil Service Department supplied expert advice on applicable law and administrative procedures. The DOB itself took responsibility for implementing the new system with oversight from Civil Service.

System Overview

The major components of the promotional selection system are shown in Figure 1 and described in more detail in later sections of this report. However, a broad overview of the system is provided at this point so that the primary aspects of the system can be made clear before additional details are provided. Two test documents are used in the system. One test assesses candidates' level of training and experience against the requirements of the position for which they are applying; that is, the promotional position. The other measures candidates' recent job performance on behaviors critical to performance in the promotional position.(1)

Since both tests are evaluated by different people, it was felt that any rater bias on one test could be countered by the other. However, as an additional safeguard, a Verification Committee, composed of three experts familiar with the requirements of the promotional position, reviews candidates' scores on both tests and interviews the candidate and others as necessary (e.g., the supervisor) to verify the accuracy of the exam documents. This committee makes the final determination of each candidate's standing on the examination.

Career development processes are linked to comments made by the Verification Committee and score information obtained from each test document. Candidates who do poorly are counseled by the Division regarding activities they might engage in to improve their score in future exams. Training, education or some other developmental method such as lateral movement is recommended as appropriate.

Evaluating Training and Experience - The T&E

The Training and Experience Examination (T&E) evaluates candidates' knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). It contains statements that describe education, training, and job activities that are important to successful performance in the promotional position as derived from a thorough job analysis of the position. Since it was found that the thrust of KSA statements can at times be unclear to some candidates, objective statements are also provided for each KSA to provide greater direction to candidates in their documentation of experience to match the KSAs. Each KSA item is also weighted for its importance to job performance in the promotional position.

Candidates, who complete the test on their own time, describe training and experience gained in their current position (or earlier) for each KSA statement. …

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