Dr. Harris is a member of the FACT Board of Directors.
BEFORE THE INDIANA STATE PSYCHOLOGY BOARD
PROPOSED RULES UNDER IC-25-33
January 23, 2004
WILLIAM G. HARRIS, PH.D.
ON BEHALF OF
THE ASSOCIATION OF TEST PUBLISHERS and THE NATIONAL FAIR ACCESS COALITION ON TESTING
In the spring of 2001 the Indiana Attorney General compelled the ISPB to halt the rulemaking process due to a procedural issue. Other problems have dogged this process since the beginning. The ISPB has long shown itself to be lacking in objectivity and indifferent to empirical evidence. The ATP denounced the proposed rules on September 16, 1998 when we submitted comments to the late Indiana governor Frank O'Bannon. Our comments urged Governor O'Bannon to intercede on behalf of the state's citizens to prevent the misapplication of IC 25.33-1-3 and the adoption of misguided rules. On March 16, 2001 ATP submitted oral and written testimony at the ISPB public hearing to express our concerns. On December 30, 2002 we send written comments to the ISPB. These comments restated our opposition to the proposed rules. For the official record we have included our earlier testimony and commentaries with today's testimony. These earlier documents may have been overlooked when the Indiana Attorney General stopped the rulemaking process.
Over these five years our view of the proposed rules has remained unchanged. During this same time period the ISPB has been inexplicably silent to inquiries from interested parties, like the ATP, about the proposed rules. For instance, the ISPB ignored inquiries from opponents to the rules regarding its less than convincing procedures to whittle "a test list numbered over two thousand" down to 237 restricted devices. Although ISPB cited numerous assessment instruments as potential candidates, the 237 devices recommended for restriction represented the most commonly used, the most financially successful, and the most psychometrically respected devices. The inclusion of all premiere devices on the restricted list can hardly be viewed as a random event.
It is common knowledge that well designed, constructed, and documented devices enjoy high usage and are the focus of ongoing research documenting their efficacy. As such, it is inconceivable that any mental health professional would be satisfied using lesser quality devices to evaluate patients or clients. It is also inconceivable that the ISPB would recommend that devices with "complexity" should be withheld from some mental health professional groups. For its purposes the ISPB has employed "complexity" to mean devices that are endowed with psychometric properties. Generally speaking all assessment devices, including appraisal instruments, are imbued with psychometric properties (e.g., reliability, validity). Admittedly, assessment devices differ in the magnitude of their reliability and validity estimates, but not in the presence or absence of such fundamental measurement characteristics. To use the "complexity" of a device to bar access is ethically questionable. No mental health profession should ever be legally forced to use poorly designed or psychometrically weak assessment to evaluate patients or clients. The ISPB's proposed rules unfortunately restrict access to high quality or "complex" devices for many mental health professionals. This rulemaking process is ill conceived. It disadvantages mental health care providers and it harms the citizens of the State or Indiana.
IC 25.33-1-3 was enacted to safeguard the public from the misuse of devices in the assessment of mental health and treatment of mental illness. The legislative intent was either to correct an existing abuse or to prevent its occurrence. In pursuing the rulemaking process the ISPB has made no meaningful attempt to gather empirical evidence to ascertain the magnitude or nature of the abuse. For example, the ISPB has not produced any evidence to show that licensed psychologists are less likely than other mental health professionals to abuse various groups of restricted devices (e.g., tests of personality, school readiness, intelligence). Logically, such data should serve as the fulcrum of ISPB's recommendation to restrict access to only licensed psychologists. Parenthetically, many licensed psychologists have significantly lesser training in the use of assessment devices than other professionals in this area. Consistent with the position taken by ATP and other professional organizations (e.g., American Psychological Association), the focus of any restrictions on the use of assessment devices should be on user competence not blind reliance on credentials and/or membership. For the ISPB to attempt to restrict other professionals from using the 237 devices without evidence of misuse is a disservice to the Indiana legislature, the citizens of Indiana, and to all mental health professionals, as well as constituting a restriction on trade that in all likelihood inflates the cost of health care services. The reckless management of the rulemaking process has raised widespread and grave concern about the ISPB's capability to establish appropriate rules that are not merely economically punitive to those professionals who compete with licensed psychologists for the same assessment patients or clients.
The ATP respectfully submits that the proposed rules to restrict 237 assessment devices from qualified mental health professionals is unfair, unreasonable, and unnecessary. The rules are unfair because they deprive qualified professionals from access to devices that they have professional competency in administering and interpreting. As an aside, many of the authors and researchers of these devices would not be qualified to utilize their own instruments under the proposed rules. The rules are unreasonable because they take away quality evaluation services from the public and they disrupt the economic livelihood of well-qualified professionals. The ISPB uses sweeping generalizations to imply that only licensed psychologists have mastered or are more likely to maser the use of these restricted devices. The ISPB offers no evidence to support this or its other sweeping claims. The rulemaking process under IC-25-33 (P.L. 184-1997) of 1997 is woefully misguided and unnecessary. The proposed rules are in variance to legislative intent and to more reasonable regulatory efforts to ensure that the citizens of Indiana are the beneficiaries of high quality and cost competitive mental health evaluations. The lack of empirical evidence to show that this rulemaking activity addresses a real or even a perceived abuse makes it unnecessary. More importantly, the ISPB rulemaking endeavor places the welfare of licensed psychologists above the welfare of the citizens of Indiana. We urge ISPB to rescind the restricted list of 237 assessment devices.
William G. Harris, Ph.D.
Cc: Indiana Governor Joseph E. Kernan