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Civil Service Mandated Cutoff Scores: Challenges and Practice Recommendations

  • Calvin C. Hoffman (a1)
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Los Angeles County's civil service rule specifies a 70% cutoff score regardless of the situation (type of job, type of assessment, or outcome of interest). This civil service rule would be difficult to defend if it were challenged in court, and the rule places the county at increased risk in the event of employment litigation, particularly with public safety jobs (police, fire, sheriff, etc.). Additionally, it is unlikely that this cutoff would optimally balance the county's interests in fair employment practices and expected job performance (SIOP, 2003). Given the propensity for public safety candidates and employees to file lawsuits related to hiring and promotions, and given the fact that public safety agencies in this county have been subjected to a number of employment-related lawsuits in the past, the current rule is problematic. Prior to this rule's development, as well as after its implementation in 1988, there has been substantial litigation related to cutoff scores, and courts have identified what they consider to be more and less appropriate methods for setting cutoff scores.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Calvin C. Hoffman, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Test Development Unit, 4700 Ramona Blvd., Monterey Park, CA 91754. E-mail: choffma@lasd.org
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The author gratefully acknowledges the comments and suggestions provided by Dr. Jerry Kehoe during the writing of this paper.

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References
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Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • ISSN: 1754-9426
  • EISSN: 1754-9434
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