Summary of the current South African assessment landscape

Evalex has always ensured that we comply with relevant regulations and legislation. Our psychometrics are registered and on the list of HPCSA classified tests. Furthermore, they also comply with the Employment Equity Act as well as the Health Professions Act. We have a strong research capability that is continuously busy with validity, reliability and fairness studies. Furthermore, we have team members involved with Assessment Standards South Africa (ASSA), the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) and People Assessments in Industry (PAI) to stay abreast of developments and to provide input where required.

The purpose of this document is to provide an update on current legislation and events taking place in the South African assessment and testing landscape. 

Summary of the current South African assessment landscape

Employers and psychologists and psychometrists need to comply with the provisions of the EEA act section 8 (a), (b) and (c) which state that a test should be able to provide concrete evidence as to its reliability, validity, fairness and non-biased nature in the South African context. This prohibition holds true for all testing of employees irrespective if it is a Psychological test or not being used.

The Health Professsions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is the body mandated by law to classify if a test measures a psychological construct or not.  If it does, then the test has to be used by a psychologist (registered with the HPCSA). 

Assessment Standards South Africa (ASSA) operates as a separate independent non-regulatory body that provides for the voluntary submission of tests for quality review.

A summary of  current relevant legislation and Industry Bodies 

  1. The Health Professions Act (no. 56 of 1974),

According to the Health Professions Act (no. 56 of 1974), instruments that measure psychological constructs must be used, interpreted and controlled by psychologists. Furthermore, only individuals registered with the Professional Board of Psychology (HPCSA) may use psychological tests.

Chapter 5, point 55 in particular states that –  A psychologist shall not base – (a) his or her assessment or intervention decision or recommendation on data or test results that are outdated for the current purpose; or (b) such a decision or recommendation on tests and measures that are obsolete and not useful for the current purpose, but shall ensure that tests used have been classified by the board and that the provisions of any applicable legislation, such as the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998), have been complied with.

  • Section 8 of to the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998:

Psychological testing and other similar assessments of an employee are prohibited unless the test or assessment being used-

  1. Has been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable;
  2. Can be applied fairly to all employees;
  3. Is not biased against any employee or group;

The revised mandate of the psychometric committee essentially indicates that as of February 2019, the Psychometrics Committee will deal with all matters pertaining to test classification (not evaluation), the education and training of psychometrics and psychological assessment.

These include:

  • To classify any device, instrument, questionnaire, apparatus, method, technique or test aimed at the evaluation of emotional, behavioural and cognitive processes or adjustment of personality of individuals or groups of persons, or for the determination of intellectual abilities, psychopathology, personality make-up, personality functioning, aptitude or interests by the usage and interpretation of questionnaires, tests projections or other techniques or any apparatus, whether of SA origin or imported, and to report thereon to the Professional Board.
  • The annual publication of a list of psychological tests/psychometric instruments classified by the professional board.
  • Develop training guidelines/standards related to psychometrics and psychological assessment that can inform and be used in the accreditation of qualifications, universities and internship programmes, when setting the national board examinations, and for continuing professional development purposes
  • Develop guidelines for ethical practice related to test use and psychological assessment and how to assess whether a psychological test meets the required standards
  • Develop minimum requirements/standards for psychological tests Classification will entail verifying whether a test was psychological or not. To this end, practitioners and publishers should submit the full test manual that states the construct(s) tapped by the test, evidence of psychometric properties, an indication as to whether the item content was culturally appropriate. No costs would be attached to test classification by the professional board.

Assessments Standards South Africa

ASSA officially launched its operations during June 2022. ASSA has been established as an independent non-regulatory external assessments evaluation  body working collaboratively with the assessment industry and the professional organisations in South Africa to assist in implementing a robust, best practice and technology enabled process that can be used to review people assessment instruments and tests. Based on the experience in other countries the voluntary submission of assessment instruments for objective evaluation and reviews will raise the general standard and awareness of using quality tests. 

The core purpose, objectives and activities of ASSA include:

  • The core purpose of Assessment Standards South Africa (ASSA) is to review the quality of tests that are available for use in South Africa. 
  • ASSA seeks to encourage the voluntary submission of assessment instruments for objective evaluation and reviews to raise the general standard and awareness of using quality tests in South Africa.
  • ASSA will provide a minimum standards focus in South Africa for all activities in relation to tests and testing. 
  • ASSA will maintain a website and online platform to provide information for best practice, results of test reviews and access to information about tests and testing.
  • The activities of ASSA presented here should be considered as applying to all such procedures, whether or not they are labelled as ‘psychological tests’ or other similar assessments.
  • In cases where an instrument meets the criteria for test classification as a psychological test, the applicants will be informed accordingly about submitting the test for classification to the HPCSA as per the statutory requirements.

Evalex continues to stay abreast of these developments and legislative requirements with involvement in the Association of Test Publishers (ATP), Assessment Standards South Africa (ASSA) and People Assessments in Industry (PAI), to ensure that we can provide our clients with accurate information for well-informed assessment decision-making.

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