Report on the Psychological Screening of Public School Bus Drivers

Upon the Completion of Seven Years, January 1995 to January 2002

Paschal B. Baute, Ed. D., Consulting Psychologist

Executive Summary:

Commonwealth of Kentucky requires a medical exam for school bus drivers that includes assessment of emotional stability. The decision was made in 1994 to implement a program of psychological screening for Fayette County Public School bus drivers. Specifics are discussed, including the choice of the test publisher and the appropriate test: how the tests are scored and used for the verbal interview. What the tests measure and how the norms were established is described. A total of 833 candidates have been screened, with a not recommended rate of 4%, or 39 candidates. Comments of the Director of Transportation are noted. Local norms based on a random sample of 480 are provided.

Instructions from the Education and Humanities Cabinet, Department of Education, Office of School Administration and Finance, re 702 KAR 5:080, dated November 8, 1991, specifies "Bus driver's qualifications; responsibilities." (Relates to KRS 156,160 and 189.540), Section 1.

"All local boards of education shall require annual medical examination of each school bus driver and drivers of special education vehicles used to transport school children to and from school and events related to such schools. The medical examination shall include tests for hearing and vision disorders, emotional stability, and for serious medical conditions, including diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and other chronic or communicable diseases if indicated in the opinion of he examining physician."

After determining that a reasonable method of satisfying the examination for emotional stability was not taking place, the Department of Transportation of the Fayette County Public Schools began efforts to establish a program which would not only satisfy the legal requirement, but would materially benefit the district by improving the likelihood that an applicant would become a successful school bus driver.

In the fall of 1994, John Kiser, Director of Transportation, Fayette County Public Schools, arranged with the Fayette County Health Department to select a psychologist for the purpose of the psychological screening of public school bus drivers. A request for bids on this project went out to the psychological community. The actual screening began in January of 1995. Originally all then current bus drivers were screened, as well as new drivers. This January marks the completion of seven years of this compliance with state directives. A total of 833 have been screened, and the number not recommended is 38. This makes the failure rate to be 4%. During the first year the screening was completed through the Health Department. Later the Transportation contracted directly with the psychologist for this work.

The psychologist selected was Dr. Paschal Baute, who had been conducting psychological screening in Fayette County for business and industry, police and fire, since the mid-70s. This past year, he completed 20 years of psychological screening for the Lexington Fire Department. A report of this screening is available by clicking on Public Safety at http://www.paschalbaute.com/

The data base of the profiles of the recommended bus drivers already on the job was used to establish local norms for all new drivers. Hilson Research, Inc., provided the norming (both national and local) as part of their regular public safety and screening profiling for more than 2000 law enforcement agencies. Hilson Research's tests have been reviewed and cited by separate task forces appointed by the U.S. Congress and the American Psychological Association.

The Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI) has been used for over 20 years to screen applicants for high-risk positions, and has become a standard in law enforcement and security officer selection. It is the most well researched instrument in this field, with independent studies published in many peer reviewed journals. It has these scales in five domains: Guardedness, Acting Out Behavior Measures (Alcohol, Drugs, Driving Violations, Job Difficulties, Trouble with the Law and Society, and Absence Abuse), Attitudes and Temperament (Substance Abuse, Antisocial attitudes, Hyperactivity, Rigidity, Type "A"), Internalized Conflict Measures (Illness Concerns, Treatment Programs, Anxiety, Phobic Personality, Obsessive Personality, Depression, Loner Type, Unusual Experiences/thoughts) and Interpersonal Conflict Measures (Lack of Assertiveness, Interpersonal Difficulties, Undue Suspiciousness, Family Conflicts, Sexual Concerns, and Spouse / Mate Conflicts).

Both national and local norms can easily be determined as Hilson Research maintains their own data bank at their home office in New York. Answer sheets for each candidate are scanned by a test scanner, then scored by modem by the Hilson computer, with narrative reports and scales being immediately returned for printing and review before the interview takes place. Candidate scores are compared with the Hilson national norms as well as a "local" norm or, in this case, previously tested bus driver candidates. Therefore, particular answers and scale results can be highlighted for focus during the verbal interview. This makes the entire process not only state of the art in professional screening, but also forensically defensible. We are not deciding mainly on psychopathology, but upon how different is the profile and the interview answers from the driver population already normed.

The local norms established in Fayette County for Bus Driver applicants are to be found in Table 1 and 2, attached. A random sample of 480 of the 833 total was used to establish the local norms.

A job analysis was conducted by using the Hilson Job Analysis Questionnaire (HJAQ). The HJAQ was completed by staff members who supervise bus drivers to identify which characteristics are most essential for the position of bus driver. Administrators use the HJAQ to document those personality characteristics and behavior patterns viewed as essential for success in specific occupations and job types, and to comply with Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

In the Bus Driver Job Analysis, the Transportation staff concerned with supervision and oversight rated as essential these composite behaviors: Social Judgement (Frustration Tolerance, Admission of Shortcomings) Work Ethic (Work Patterns, Lack of Procrastination, Loyalty to the Organization) Conscientiousness, and Self Confidence. A profile summarizing these behavioral priorities rated as essential and important for public school bus drivers is attached to this report. See Table 3, attached.

The written part of the screening takes about two to 2 and ½ hours. This includes the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI), the Personal History Questionnaire for Public Safety and Security Personnel, and the NEO. After these are reviewed, the psychologist spends one half hour with each candidate to review answers and for the face to face assessment. Then a report on suitability is made to the department. Candidates are rated based on their similarity to the norms established.

After pilot studies with the actual predictive value of several other profiles, the NEO Personality Inventory was added to the screening battery in February of 1999. The NEO is a concise measure of the 5 major domains of personality: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Each of these facets has six components that are measured. Since the NEO offers a detailed assessment of the normal personality, while the IPI is based on the measure of potential negative behaviors and patterns with public safety and security norms, the NEO permits a more detailed assessment of positive personality traits, as well as key negative indicators.

An interview checklist is also used. Previous work history is an important focus for the interview. In summary, we have established a Job Analysis based on reports of the transportation supervisors, and a data base of the scored scales of those who have successfully passed the screening. These are the criteria, with the professional judgment of the psychologist based on the verbal interview. The decision is "This person does (does not) fit the profile established for the safe and secure transportation of children of the Fayette County Public Schools."

When each screening result is added to the norms of this project, the overall validity of the screening is improved. Both the test data base and the experience base is strengthened. In short, the longer the program is in existence, the more reliable it becomes as an indicator of expected job performance. Thus, the present high level of performance and reliability of the school bus drivers in Fayette County Public Schools can be attributed in some measure to the success of the emotional stability screening program, according to Mr. John Kiser. He continued: " The ability to work within a highly stressful environment is essential for school bus drivers. This initial screening tool is extremely valuable in identifying applicants that may not have a good fit with the ideal school bus driver profile that has been developed over the past several years by the Fayette County Public Schools."

References

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "ADA compliance Use of Psychological Tests in Occupational Screening." Workshop given at the Kentucky Psychological Association annual convention, Louisville, Ky, August, 1995.

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "ADA / EEOC Update for Personnel Screening, 1994." Personnel Promptings newsletter published for corporate clients by the Institute for Human Responsiveness, Inc,, November, 1994.

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "Expert Witnessing and Daubert: Is Your Expert Witnessing Ready for a Daubert/Kumho Challenge?" The Forensic Examiner. March-April and May-June, 2000, published in two parts.

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "Further Guidelines for the Organizational Psychologist Preparing for Expert Witness." The Industrial Organizational Psychologist. (38:3) January, 2001.

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "How Does an Organization Decide Which Selection Tests Are Appropriate?" Personnel Promptings newsletter published for corporate clients by the Institute for Human Responsiveness, Inc

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "How Do We Know They Tell the Truth?" Personnel Promptings newsletter published for corporate clients by the Institute for Human Responsiveness, Inc.

Baute, Paschal, and Mead, Allan. "Six Strategies for Supporting Personality Assessment Without Large Validation Sample." Paper presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, April, 1999, Atlanta. Ga.

Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "The Role of the Psychologist or Other Scientists in Expert Witness: Falsiability: a Paradigm Shift in What is Admissible." The Forensic Examiner, May-June, 1999.



Baute, Paschal. Ed. D. "Using Psychological Screening to Select Top Performers in Firefighting, 1982-1999, A Research Summary." Available at www.paschalbaute.com.

Table 1.

Fayette County Public School Bus Driver IPI Norms

Cases: 480 Click to view table

Table 2

Fayette County Public School Bus Driver IPI Norms

Cases: 480

Click here to view table