The Army Needs To Modify Its System for Measuring Individual Soldier Proficiency

FPCD-82-28: Published: Mar 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1982.

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GAO reviewed whether the Army's Skill Qualification Test Program measures soldier proficiency and identifies individual training needs.

The program is the Army's only diagnostic tool for measuring individual training effectiveness and individual soldier proficiency in critical job tasks. However, GAO found that unit commanders and trainers are not getting the necessary information to assess accurately either skill proficiency or individual training needs because: (1) only a selected number of critical job tasks are tested; (2) the testing is an annual event rather than the culmination of a year-round training program; (3) promotions based on the test results create inequities among soldiers; (4) the test results are not routinely used to measure soldier proficiency or training needs at the unit level; and (5) the test program handicaps rather than improves professional skill development because training is provided primarily for the few skills tested. The program has become hard to administer and uses thousands of people to develop, print, distribute, and score the tests at an annual cost of more than $25 million.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has revised manuals to include guidelines or checklists for task evaluations which are used by unit trainers.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop a system in which unit trainers are held accountable for using tests contained in Soldiers Manuals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop a system in which the assessments of individual training needs remain at the unit level to serve as a diagnostic aid.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop a system in which the Soldiers Manuals, where feasible, include tests which unit-level trainers can use as often as they wish to evaluate individual proficiency in as many tasks as necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army does not concur with the need for a separate program to be used for promotion decisions. Test results are used as a management tool in the Enlisted Personnel Management System. Overall, the Army's actions appear to implement the thrust of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop and implement, beginning in fiscal year 1983, a more effective system for measuring individual soldier proficiency and training needs. This system should incorporate separate programs for: (1) assessing individual training needs; and (2) measuring individual proficiency for promotion decisions. More specifically, the program for assessing individual training needs should be tied directly to the Soldiers Manuals and used as a training tool.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army believes that all soldiers should be tested, not just those eligible for promotion. The Army's actions have achieved the primary intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop a system in which any program that measures individual proficiency for use in promotion decisions should apply only to those soldiers eligible for or within the noncommissioned officer ranks. These exams should consist of a written test on randomly selected Soldiers Manual tasks and a hands-on, common-task test. These tests should be offered for a limited period each year, and only those soldiers eligible for promotions should be required to take the test. The specific test questions should not be announced in advance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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