Setting a Minimum Proficiency Level or Cut Score

Establishing an appropriate proficiency minimum for a position requiring specific language skills is an important phase when setting up an assessment program. If a minimum standard is set too low, the organization risks customer dissatisfaction and inefficient operations. If the standard is set too high, the applicant pool is narrowed causing qualified applicants to be unfairly excluded.

Task Analysis

Language Testing International (LTI), with a group of Industrial-Organizational psychologists, developed a formal LTI Task Analysis process to assist in establishing minimum proficiency levels for language-specific positions. It requires the client to carefully select a group of 3-8 "Subject Matter Experts" or SMEs who are very familiar with communication tasks required by the position and represent all stakeholders in the selection of effective candidates for that position. Through a series of surveys and activities with an LTI facilitator, the SME group will identify and discuss the communication tasks and functions; range of content/context areas; level of accuracy; and degree of elaboration needed to perform the bilingual position in question.

Following the meeting, LTI summarizes the process and details results in a Task Analysis Report that includes the minimum proficiency level set by the SMEs.

The process of closely examining the communication tasks of a bilingual position and selecting an appropriate proficiency level is an invaluable opportunity for human resources and operations managers to become familiar with language proficiency and the description of various levels, and gain a sense of "ownership" in the assessment program.