In September 2005 the HPCSA adopted the first version of the South African Guidelines for Computerised Testing. This document was broadly based on the International Test Commission’s (ITC) guidelines, which ATP SA fully endorsed given the balanced stance, thoroughness of reasoning and ethical orientation of the international guidelines. However the HPCSA unilaterally, and without apparent consideration of input from stakeholders, decided to prohibit the use of unsupervised Internet testing in South Africa. ATP SA as a body objected to the one-sided view and unilateral decision of the HPCSA, and intervened with legal action (Case 4218/07). The outcome of this action was that in April 2007 the HPCSA rescinded its decision to publish the Guidelines.
Currently the situation is therefore that there is no legislation in place concerning Internet testing. Legal counsel for the HPCSA confirmed this in a letter to legal counsel for ATP SA dated 12 July 2007, stating: “We further confirm that to the extent that there is no legislation in place at this stage on these two issues [internet testing and the administration of tests by unregistered persons], the Board would not be in a position to take any decision on the guidelines for psychological testing.”
Regulation No. R. 1863 of 16 September 1977 clearly states that an act, as referred to in Section 37 (1) of the Health Professions Act 1974 (Act 56 of 1974), may be performed by any person under the supervision, or on the instruction of a Psychologist. For example, a psychologist may instruct candidates to complete assessments online, but the psychologist will still remain accountable for the decision. Given the accumulated research and documentation on best practice in Internet testing – be it supervised or unsupervised – the supervising psychologist can recommend the process of using the Internet for the administration of suitably designed tests.
The use of the Internet for the administration of suitably designed tests is thus legal and an accepted international practice, as long as it is conducted in line with available published international and local best practice and ethical guidelines. ATP SA urges all professionals using Internet assessments to do so guided by their professional ethics.
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