Social, Ethical, and Legal Issues
Educational testing and evaluation have grown in use and importance for students in general and nursing students in particular over the last decade. One only has to read the newspapers and watch television to appreciate the prevalence of testing and evaluation in contemporary American society. With policies such as No Child Left Behind, high school mandatory graduation tests in some states, and the emphasis on standardized achievement tests in many schools, testing and evaluation have taken a prominent role in the educational system. From the moment of birth, when we are weighed, measured, and rated according to the Apgar scale, throughout all of our educational and work experiences, and even in our personal and social lives, we are used to being tested and evaluated. In addition, nursing and other professional disciplines have come under increasing public pressure to be accountable for the quality of educational programs and the competency of their practitioners; thus testing and evaluation often are used to provide evidence of quality and competence.
With the increasing use of evaluation and testing come intensified interest and concern about fairness, appropriateness, and impact. This chapter discusses selected social, ethical, and legal issues related to testing and evaluation practices in nursing education.
Testing has tremendous social impact because test scores can have positive and negative consequences for individuals. Tests can provide information to assist in decision making; some of these decisions have more importance to society and to individuals than other decisions. The licensure of drivers is a good example. Written and performance tests provide information for deciding who may drive a vehicle. Society has a vested interest in the outcome because a bad