TIER ONE PERFORMANCE SCREEN

                                    Tonia S. Heffner,*, Len White, and Kimberly S. Owens
                                                 U.S. Army Research Institute
                                                     Arlington, VA 22202

                       ABSTRACT                                        The ASVAB was developed to predict an
                                                                  applicant’s likelihood of being trained to proficiency on
     This research was designed to identify the most              the necessary knowledge and skills to perform an Army
promising non-cognitive measures to screen Army                   job. Extensive research demonstrates that ASVAB
applicants. Soldiers were administered a non-cognitive            performs exactly as it is intended to perform (Campbell
test battery at Army Reception Battalions. Performance,           & Knapp, 2001); it is an excellent predictor of the “can-
attitudinal, and attrition data were captured from these          do” (proficiency) aspects of performance. However, the
same Soldiers at the end of Initial Military Training, in         ASVAB is not a strong predictor of the “will-do” or
their first unit of assignment, and from Army databases.          motivational outcomes; e.g., non-academic attrition,
The results demonstrate that non-cognitive measures               effort, physical fitness. To improve the selection of new
increase the prediction of the outcomes beyond that               Soldiers and to increase flexibility within the personnel
which can be achieved with the existing selection tools.          management system, the Army needs to predict which
Preliminary results from an initial operational test and          applicants have not only the aptitude to become
evaluation continue to support these conclusions. The             technically proficient, but also the motivation to
results have implications for tailoring applicant selection       diligently perform at a high standard.
to current Army needs.
                                                                       Findings from multiple research efforts have
                  1. INTRODUCTION                                 demonstrated that ARI’s non-cognitive measures add to
                                                                  the capability of educational attainment and the ASVAB
     To meet current and future missions, the Army                for predicting attrition and Army performance
needs flexibility within the personnel system to recruit          components such as job effort, leadership, and personal
and access applicants with the greatest potential to              discipline (Campbell & Knapp, 2001; Ingerick, Diaz, &
succeed in the Army. Such flexibility allows the Army             Putka, 2009; Knapp, McCloy, & Heffner, 2004; Knapp
to adapt to changing economic, social, and global                 & Tremble, 2007). Non-cognitive is a comprehensive
conditions which may impact the recruiting environment.           term which encompasses a broad spectrum of
In more favorable recruiting markets, the number of               assessments. For this research, non-cognitive measures
applicants exceeds the number of Soldiers needed and              were limited to temperament, or personality, and
the emphasis may be to “screen out” applicants with               vocational interest assessments. The purpose of the
lowest potential. When the recruiting environment is              research described in this paper was to conduct a large
very challenging, selection tools can help expand the             scale, longitudinal examination of a battery of state-of-
recruiting market and “screen in” high potential                  the-art non-cognitive measures for predicting valued
individuals. As conditions change, a flexible personnel           Army outcomes. The focus of this research is Tier 1
system must continue to maintain the high standards               nonprior service applicants. The Tier 2 attrition screen
currently in place for applicant selection.                       (TTAS), which uses a non-cognitve measure, already is
                                                                  in operation for selection of Tier 2 applicants (White,
      To predict a recruit’s potential for lower attrition and    Young, Heggestad, Stark, Drasgow, & Piskator, 2004).
higher performance, the Army uses educational                     Prior service Soldiers were excluded because they have
attainment and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude             different knowledge about and expectations of military
Battery (ASVAB) as screening tools. Educational Tier 1            service as well as an established record of success.
applicants, primarily high school diploma graduates, are
more desirable recruits because analyses have shown that                               2. METHOD
they have lower attrition than Tier 2, or non-high school
diploma graduates (Strickland, 2004; Trent & Lawrence,            2.1 Reception Battalion Predictor Testing
1993). Although educational attainment does predict
attrition, it has a much weaker relationship with other                A total of 8,103 Tier 1 nonprior service Soldiers
motivational outcomes; e.g., physical fitness, effort,            participated in the research. The vast majority of the
leadership.                                                       Soldiers had 2-5 days time in service when they
                                                                  completed the test battery. The sample was mostly male
                                                                  (78%). Of the sample, 76% reported their race/ethnicity
as White, 16% reported African-American, and 15%               precise measurement while simultaneously increasing
reported Hispanic. 1 An emphasis was placed on gaining         testing efficiency and providing improved test security.
participation from Soldiers assigned to the military           The TAPAS uses a paired forced-choice approach. Each
occupational specialties (MOS) of Infantryman (11B),           applicant is required to select one of two statements that
Armor Crewman (19K), Military Police (31B), Health             is most like him or her. The item bank of more than 600
Care Specialist (68W), Motor Transport Operator (88M),         statements and the delivery software have been carefully
and Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (91B) and from all                developed so that no pair of displayed statements has one
components (Regular Army [RA], Army Reserve                    that is discernibly more socially desirable than the other.
[USAR] and Army National Guard [ARNG]).                        The statements are independent so each applicant will be
                                                               presented with different pairs of statements which makes
     The Soldiers were administered the paper and pencil       each applicant’s test virtually unique. The determination
non-cognitive test battery in large classrooms at the          of the subsequent pairings is regulated by the previous
Reception Battalions. They were informed that the              responses of the applicant. A sample item is presented in
research was voluntary and that the U.S. Army Research         Figure 1.
Institute (ARI) would track their progress through their
                                                                Table 2. Definitions of TAPAS Dimensions
first term of enlistment to include administering
                                                                Achievement    Individuals scoring high are hard working,
measures at the end of Initial Military Training (IMT), at                     ambitious, confident, or resourceful.
about 18 months time in service (TIS), and at about 36          Non-           Persons scoring high tend to comply with
months TIS. The test administration took about two              delinquency    current rules and expectations; they dislike
hours.                                                                         change and do not challenge authority.
                                                                Even-          Persons scoring high tend to be calm, level
                                                                tempered       headed, and stable.
Table 1. Predictor Sample Size by MOS and Component             Intellectual   High scoring individuals process information
  MOS            RA          ARNG          USAR                 efficiency     quickly and are described by others as
                                                                               knowledgeable, astute, or intellectual.
  11B           1177          612             0
                                                                Optimism       Persons scoring high have a general
  19K           447           113             0                                emotional tone reflecting joy or happiness.
  31B           616           580           288                 Physical       Person scoring high are interested in physical
  68W           114           148            45                 Conditioning   activities.
  88M           162           262            88                 Attention-     Individuals scoring high seek social
  91B           186           181           105                 seeking        stimulation; they are loud, loquacious,
  Other         2668          1873          1113                               entertaining, and even boastful.

                    3. PREDICTOR MEASURES                           Computer-adaptive testing was not feasible at the
                                                               Reception Battalions, so a carefully constructed paper
3.1 Non-cognitive Test Battery                                 and pencil version of the TAPAS was created for this
                                                               research. Care was taken to capitalize on the advances of
    The non-cognitive test battery consisted of six            computer adaptive testing such as paring statements from
measures (see Knapp & Heffner, 2009) but this                  different dimensions, balancing statements for social
discussion will be limited to one temperament and one          desirability, and ensuring that statements reflected equal
vocational interest measure, described below.                  levels of the underlying dimensions.

     TAPAS.       The Tailored Adaptive Personality            Dimension    Statements (always displayed in pairs)
Assessment System (TAPAS) is a 15 dimension                    Dominance    I am not one to volunteer to be group
personality measure of which 7 are described in Table 2                     leader, but I would serve if asked.
(Stark, Chernyshenko, & Drasgow, 2010).          These         Optimism     My life has had about an equal share of
dimensions were selected based on past research and job                     ups and downs.
analyses as likely to be predictive of enlisted                Figure 1. Sample TAPAS items
performance outcomes.        The TAPAS normally
administered as an adaptive test designed to be
administered on the same computer platform as the                  The TAPAS provides two composite scores based
ASVAB so the transition to TAPAS would be seamless             on the seven dimensions listed above. The “can do”
to the applicant. The advantage of a computer-adaptive         score reflects learning-based aspects of performance.
test is that it allows each test to be tailored to an          The “will do” score reflects the motivational aspects of
individual’s level of a particular attribute for more          performance.
 The numbers sum to greater than 100% because race                 Work Preferences Assessment.        The Work
and ethnicity are two distinct questions.                      Preferences Assessment (WPA) is a vocational interest
measure designed to assess preferences for various work                     4. OUTCOME ASSESSMENT
activities,    work      environments,        and     learning
opportunities. It is designed to assess “fit” between an         4.1 IMT Participants and Procedure
applicant and the types of jobs available in the Army.
The content is based on Holland’s (1997) theory of                    A subset of the Soldiers in the target MOS who were
personality and work environments which posits that              participants in the predictor data collection (n = 2,294)
jobs can be rated and profiled on 6 dimensions: Realistic,       also participated in the outcome data collection
Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and               approximately two weeks before graduation from IMT
Conventional (see Figure 2 for sample statements). The           (see Table 3). The sample was mostly male (91%), 86%
Soldier rates each statement based on how important it is        reported their race/ethnicity as White, 7% reported
to his or her ideal job. Although the WPA has some               African-American, and 7% reported Hispanic. Males
potential utility for selection, its real strength lies in the   were slightly overrepresented because 11B and 19K are
potential to improve classification.                             restricted to males only. For AFQT category, 32% were
                                                                 Category I or II, 28% were Category IIIA, 36% were
                                                                 Category IIIB, and 3% were Category IV. The Soldiers
Dimension     Statement                                          were tracked by training company rather than
Realistic     A job that requires me to get my hands             individually and the entire company took the outcome
              dirty.                                             measures. The assessments were administered, in groups
Investigative A job that requires me to research topics          no larger than 40 Soldiers, via computers using ARI’s
              and write reports about what I find.               Interform software. Outcome data collection took 90 to
Artistic      A job that requires me to come up with             120 minutes per group and was proctored by project
              creative ideas.                                    staff.
Social        A job in which I can learn how to
              communicate better with people.                      Table 3. IMT Sample Size by MOS and Component
Enterprising  A job in which advancement in the                      MOS          RA          ARNG        USAR
              organization is valued.                                11B          551           122         0
Conventional A job in which I can learn more about                   19K          354           113         0
              managing an office.                                    31B          316           269        132
Figure 2. Sample WPA statements.                                     68W          42            71         22
                                                                     88M          23            35         15
                                                                     91B          102           78         40
3.2 Administrative Data
                                                                 4.2 In-unit Participants and Procedure
     From Army databases, demographic information
was acquired including gender, race, MOS, ASVAB
                                                                      A subset of the Soldiers (n = 1,233) were
scores, and Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT)
                                                                 administered the computerized outcome measures at
scores. The AFQT is a subscore of the ASVAB which is
                                                                 about18 months TIS (see Table 4). The sample was
used to determine enlistment eligibility and other
                                                                 mostly male (78%), 77% reported their race/ethnicity as
enlistment considerations.
                                                                 White, 14% reported African-American, and 16%
                                                                 reported Hispanic. For AFQT category, 41% were
     Applicants are assigned to one of six categories
                                                                 Category I or II, 20% were Category IIIA, 34% were
based on their AFQT scores. Those above the mean are
                                                                 Category IIIB, and 5% were Category IV. With the
assigned to Categories I (highest scorers), II (above
                                                                 assistance of the Human Resources Command, we were
average), IIIA (slightly above average). Applicants
                                                                 able to track the Soldiers to their posts and requested
scoring in Categories I-IIIA are given priority for
                                                                 them, by name, to participate in the 90-120 minute
accession over those scoring below the mean.
                                                                 testing sessions which were proctored by project staff.
Applicants below the mean are assigned to Category IIIB
(slightly below average) and Category IV (lowest
acceptable category). Category IV enlistments are                  Table 4. In-unit Sample Size by MOS and Component
greatly restricted and Category V applicants are not                 MOS            RA          ARNG        USAR
enlistment eligible.                                                 11B            184           21           0
                                                                     19K            60             3           0
                                                                     31B            108           49          28
                                                                     68W            13            14           7
                                                                     88M            23            14          10
                                                                     91B            18            10          14
                                                                     Other          374           160        123
4.3 Outcome Measures                                         assessment regardless of whether they participated in the
                                                             IMT and/or in-unit data collections.
     Job Knowledge. The Soldiers took one or two
knowledge tests depending on when they were tested and           Attrition. Attrition data for the Regular Army
on their MOS. Both tests consisted of multiple choice,       Soldiers was continuously provided at 3 month intervals
matching, ordering, and drag and drop (i.e., moving          from the U.S. Army Accessions Command. Attrition
items around with a mouse on the computer screen) type       data for this sample was not available for Army Reserve
questions. Graphics were liberally included in the tests     and National Guard Soldiers.
to reflect the procedural aspects of some tasks and to
decrease the reading demand. Those Soldiers who were              Training Performance.      We collected training
in one of the target MOS listed above took an MOS-           performance/test scores from the Resident Integrated
specific test. The number of possible points on these        Training Management System (RITMS).               Each
tests ranged from 90 to 168. For those Soldiers assessed     Advanced Individual Training (AIT) course is divided
at the end of training, the test content was restricted to   into performance blocks which represent training for a
content from the program of instruction (POI) for the        specific topic area. Either a performance-based or test-
course whereas the tests administered at about 18 months     based assessment was completed at the end of each
time in service included questions related to a broader      performance block.        To determine the training
scope of skill level 10 tasks. Soldiers tested in IMT only   performance score, we averaged across the performance
took the MOS-specific test. The second knowledge test,       blocks. Training performance was not available for all
which had 126 possible points, assessed warrior tasks        MOS.
and battle drills (WTBD), or Soldier common tasks, and
was administered to every Soldier tested in-unit. Those           Training Completion. From the Army Training
in a target MOS also took the MOS-specific test.             Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS), we
                                                             collected data on the number of course restarts a Soldier
     Army Life Questionnaire. The Soldiers in IMT and        had and his or her graduation status.
in-unit completed a survey of their attitudes including
commitment, attrition thoughts, career intentions,                                5. RESULTS
satisfaction with their jobs and the Army, and their
perceived fit with their MOS and the Army. The                     Overall, the results demonstrated that TAPAS can
Soldiers self-reported their Army Physical Fitness Test      contribute to the prediction of Army performance and
(APFT) and Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) scores.            attrition at the end of IMT (Knapp & Heffner, 2009);
The Soldiers also reported their disciplinary incidents.     Knapp & Heffner, 2010) and in-unit (Knapp, Owens, &
Discipline was very broadly defined to include formal        Allen, 2010).
counseling or being placed on restriction as well as
Article 15s.                                                 5.1 IMT Results

     Ratings of Performance.       Ratings of Soldier             Figures 3-6 provide a sample of the IMT results.
performance at the end of IMT came from two different        Figures 3 and 4 illustrate how TAPAS and WPA,
sources, the Soldier’s peers (up to four raters) and the     respectively, can improve the prediction of attrition and
Soldier’s Drill Sergeants or Platoon Sergeants (two          performance over and above the AFQT. TAPAS
raters). For the in-unit performance ratings, only first     incremented the AFQT only a small amount for training
line supervisors provided ratings.                           exam grades, but incremented the AFQT significantly for
                                                             the other outcome measures which are largely
     All Soldiers, in both IMT and in-unit, were rated on    motivation-based. Likewise, the WPA did little to
8 to 14 dimensions of common performance such as peer        increment over the MOS-specific job knowledge test, but
leadership, commitment & adjustment, job-specific task       added significantly to the AFQT for the prediction of the
performance, and common task performance. For those          motivation-based outcomes. Of particular note is the
Soldiers in the target MOS, the raters also were asked to    large increment that the WPA provided over AFQT for
complete the job-specific task performance rating scales     Army fit. This result supports the proposition that the
for their Soldiers. The number of dimensions ranged          WPA can aid with classification.
from 5 to 9.
                                                                  To better illustrate the impact of non-cognitive
4.4 Administrative Data                                      assessment to improve applicant selection and function
                                                             as a recruiting market expander, the results will be
    Administrative data were collected from a variety of     presented within AFQT categories. TAPAS “passing”
Army databases. The administrative data was collected        scores were defined by two different cut scores. Passing
for all Soldiers who participated in the predictor           at the 50th percentile means that the Soldier scored above
                                                                   the mean on both the “can do” and “will do” composites.
                                                                   Approximately 38% of the Soldiers were labeled as
                                                                   passing. The 50th percentile reflects use of TAPAS as a
                                                                   market expander, i.e., does the applicant have the
                                                                   potential to perform like a Soldier in a higher AFQT
                                                                   category? Scoring above the 10th percentile on both
                                                                   composites resulted in 87% of the Soldiers “passing.”
                                                                   The 10th percentile reflects use of TAPAS as a “screen-
                                                                   out” tool; i.e., is the applicant likely to perform poorly?

                                                                          Soldiers in AFQT Category IIIB who passed the
                                                                   TAPAS at the 50th percentile had significantly lower
                                                                   attrition rates than the Soldiers in AFQT Category IIIB
                                                                   who failed (7.8 vs. 14.2%; see Figure 5). Further, those
                                                                   in IIIB who passed at the 50th percentile had lower
                                                                   attrition than Soldiers in any other AFQT Category. For
                                                                   Soldiers in the lowest acceptable AFQT Category, IV,
                                                                   those who passed TAPAS at the 10th percentile had
                                                                   training exam scores similar to Soldiers in higher AFQT
                                                                   Categories and markedly higher scores that those who
                                                                   failed TAPAS (see Figure 6).


Figure 3. Initial research findings for IMT: TAPAS increases
prediction of potential beyond AFQT. 

                                                                       Figure 5. Comparison of attrition by AFQT Category
                                                                       and TAPAS score (50th percentile).


Figure 4. Initial research findings for IMT: WPA increases
prediction of potential beyond AFQT. 

                                                                      Figure 6. Comparison of training course grades by
                                                                      AFQT Category and TAPAS scores (10th percentile).
5.2 In-unit Results                                         & Putka, 2009; Knapp, McCloy, & Heffner, 2004;
                                                            Knapp & Tremble, 2007).            Further, these results
      The results for outcomes assessed in-unit were        demonstrate that non-cognitive measures, in combination
consistent with the results in IMT. A low sample size for   with the AFQT, can be used to “screen-in” applicants
AFQT Category IV Soldier prohibited any analysis for        likely to perform better and have lower attrition than
this group. For Soldiers in AFQT Category IIIB, those       their AFQT category alone would predict and to “screen-
who passed TAPAS at the 50th percentile had lower           out” low-motivated applicants who are likely to be low
attrition rates at 21 months TIS than those who failed      performers and high attrition risks.
TAPAS (see Figure 6). Likewise, Soldiers in AFQT
Category IIIB who passed the TAPAS as the 50th
percentile had lower reported disciplinary incidents than        6.0 INITIAL OPERATIONAL TEST AND
those who failed TAPAS or any other AFQT Category.                           EVALUATION

                                                                 In response to these findings, the Deputy Chief of
                                                            Staff, G-1, implemented TAPAS for an initial
                                                            operational test and evaluation (IOT&E). The TAPAS is
                                                            being used as a Tier 1 enlistment eligibility test. To
                                                            evaluate the operational use of TAPAS, ARI and US
                                                            Army Accessions Command are conducting an
                                                            evaluation. Testing at all Military Entrance Processing
                                                            Stations (MEPS) began FY10 Q2. To date, more than
                                                            100,000 applicants have taken the TAPAS. The WPA is
                                                            undergoing final testing by the Defense Manpower Data
                                                            Center (DMDC) to be added to the ASVAB platform and
                                                            testing is expected to begin FY11 Q2.

                                                                  Outcome data is being collected to validate TAPAS
 Figure 7. Comparison of 21 month attrition by              as an enlistment eligibility test, to define appropriate
 AFQT category and TAPAS score (50th percentile).           pass-fail scores, and to examine use as an assignment
                                                            tool. The Soldiers who took TAPAS at the MEPS are
                                                            being tracked and a subset will be assessed four (4) times
                                                            during their first and second terms of enlistment using a
                                                            research design similar to the one described above. The
                                                            four changes to the research design are: 1) the outcome
                                                            measures are being administered by the Drill Sergeants
                                                            or Platoon Sergeants, 2) Signal Support Specialist (25U)
                                                            and Human Resource Specialist (42A) were added to the
                                                            list of target MOS, 3) the WTBD knowledge test is being
                                                            administered in IMT along with the MOS test, and 4)
                                                            peer ratings are not being collected in IMT to reduce the
                                                            burden on the Drill Sergeants and Platoon Sergeants.

                                                            6.1 Preliminary Results

                                                                 As of FY10 Q4, a small number of Soldiers (n =
                                                            429) took the TAPAS and have completed IMT. The
                                                            length of the Delayed Entry Program, i.e., the time from
                                                            signing a contract to beginning training, has delayed
  Figure 8. Disciplinary incidents by AFQT                  collection of the outcome data. Of the participants who
  category and TAPAS score (50th percentile).               have completed IMT, the sample was mostly male
                                                            (81%), 65% reported their race/ethnicity as White, 11%
5.3 Results Summary                                         reported African-American, 14% reported Hispanic, and
                                                            20% did not respond. For AFQT category, 39% were
    This research supports earlier findings that non-       Category I or II, 20% were Category IIIA, 24% were
cognitive measures contribute to prediction of “can do”     Category IIIB, and 16% were Category IV. The large
performance and are strong predictors of “will do”          number of Category IV Soldiers is an intentional
performance (Campbell & Knapp, 2001; Ingerick, Diaz,        overrepresentation to ensure an analyzable sample size.
      The following results should be interpreted very         the Army. From a “screen-out” perspective, applicants
cautiously as they are based on very small sample sizes.       who have a lower likelihood of completing training or
A second caution applies to the attrition results. In order    the first term of enlistment can be excluded from
to have a larger sample size, the data were analyzed at 3      consideration – thus reducing training costs. From a
months time in service.        For most Soldiers, this         “screen-in” perspective, the results show that TAPAS
represents the completion of Basic Combat Training and         has potential to help identify applicants who will perform
little to no MOS training.                                     like applicants in the next higher AFQT category – thus
                                                               better identifying which applicants from a large group
    Table 5. IOT&E Sample Size by MOS                          should be permitted to access and allowing for market
      11B/C/X                        198                       expansion.
      19K                              1
      25U                              7
      31B                             43
      42A                             28
      68W                             64
      88M                             70
      91B                             18

      The pattern of results for 3 month attrition parallels
what was found previously (see Figures 5 & 7). Soldiers
in AFQT Category IIIB who passed TAPAS had lower
attrition than those who failed TAPAS. Attrition rates
for those who passed TAPAS in AFQT Category IIIB
were similar to those in other AFQT Categories.                  Figure 10. Training grades by AFQT category and
                                                                 TAPAS score (50th percentile).

                                                                    The use of non-cognitive assessments to improve
                                                               selection is relatively new, but the potential is great. In
                                                               addition to applicant selection, TAPAS is currently being
                                                               evaluated for in-service selection for special
                                                               assignments, officer selection, and applicant MOS
                                                               assignment. TAPAS also is being evaluated for Air
                                                               Force applicant selection.


                                                                    The authors would like to thank Drasgow
                                                               Consulting Group, Dr. Fritz Drasgow, Project Director,
 Figure 9. IOT&E 3 month attrition by AFQT score               for their efforts under an SBIR Contract to support the
 and TAPAS score                                               development of the Tailored Adaptive Personality
                                                               Assessment System. We also thank the many contractors
    Training grades for those AFQT Category IIIB               from the Human Resources Research Organization, Dr.
Soldiers who passed TAPAS were slightly higher than            Deirdre Knapp, Project Director, for their support for the
Soldiers who failed TAPAS and similar to the training          measure development, data collection, and data analyses.
grades of IIIB Soldiers. The sample size, however, is too      We appreciate the data collection assistance provided by
small to draw any conclusions.                                 numerous ARI colleagues for this large effort. Finally,
                                                               we want to acknowledge the tens of thousands of
                     CONCLUSION                                Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, Army civilians, and
                                                               officers, particularly in the target MOS, who provided
    Our results indicate that TAPAS improves the               their time, patience, and organizational skills to make
prediction of Soldier attrition and performance beyond         this research possible.
what is possible with current enlistment screens, ASVAB
and education credentials. Further, implementation of
TAPAS has the potential to provide numerous benefits to

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