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Will psychometric tests make schools safer? Experts not too sure

Psychiatrists say psychometric tests serve no purpose as these are generalised evaluations of a person’s current state of mind and cannot indicate if he or she will commit a crime in future

education Updated: Sep 18, 2017 12:01 IST
School children and their parents in Chandigarh participate in a candle march  to highlight safety issues after the tragic death of a student in Gurgaon.
School children and their parents in Chandigarh participate in a candle march to highlight safety issues after the tragic death of a student in Gurgaon.(Ravi Kumar/Hindustan Times/For representation only)

New Delhi

Psychiatrists in the city are flooded with calls, emails and messages from schools, with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) asking all its affiliated schools to get the “psychometric evaluation” of all employees.

But will psychometric tests make schools safer? Experts are not too sure.

“It serves no purpose as it’s a generalised evaluation of a person’s current state of mind and cannot be an indicator of whether the person will assault a kid in future or not,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director-department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare.

Psychometric test is not a single test but a series of tests, and the result may not be 100% accurate.

“It is not like a blood test or an MRI scan, it is a test which is based on the evaluation of a person’s background, family history, etc. The results are based on how well a person evaluating is able to interpret the information,” says Dr Rajesh Sagar, professor, department of psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi.

Also, India reels under severe shortage of mental health professionals, with an estimated 300-350% demand and supply gap, which puts a question mark on the feasibility of the whole exercise within the stipulated two months.

“We have not been able to provide trained counsellors to schools because there is an acute shortage of trained psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. It is not feasible to conduct the tests on the entire staff of all the affiliated schools in two months,” says Dr Parikh.

Dr Sagar agrees, “These tests take long hours; sometimes one sitting is not enough and we may need to have two-three sittings, and interpreting the results takes even longer.

Also, experts fear it may lead to substandard evaluation.

“It will encourage fly by night psychologists to offer certificates that may not hold much psychiatric value,” says Dr Parikh.

More thought needs to be put into the matter.

“It is not an entirely a bad idea, however, there could be some method if one brainstorms and comes up with a better strategy like choosing high-risk people, etc.,” says Dr Sagar.