Skills and Knowledge Assessment

Situational judgment examinations help assess the ability of a correctional officer to work with inmates, co-workers, and other visitors, that help professional personnel assess an applicant’s mental fitness for the position. Situations that can lead to an improper assessment of an applicant’s ability include:

* Failure to understand and/or to evaluate situations that may present problems for a correctional officer. These situations may include; an inmate who may become violent, a drug addict who refuses to take medication, an employee with mental problems who refuses to follow directions, a visitor or an individual who is disruptive.

* Failure to recognize a situation that may present difficulties for a correctional officer in an acceptable manner. These may include; an inmate who refuses to sign a written consent form; a prisoner who refuses to follow the officer’s orders or an employee who refuses to follow directions or a situation where the officer is unable to gain compliance from another individual or to gain cooperation from another group of individuals.

* Failure to properly assess a correctional officer based on their own behavior. An example is a correctional officer who is verbally abusive toward an inmate or a correctional officer who engages in physical abuse of inmates in a correctional facility.

* Failure to recognize that all individuals and employees in a facility have the same needs and that it is important to provide that care to all the employees. This is why correctional officers are required to conduct self-assessment tests and to perform tasks and assessments designed to help them determine which individuals in a facility need the services and resources.

* Failure to recognize that correctional officers are sometimes required to make decisions about inmates. In some cases, correctional officers make decisions about what a person will be doing within the facilities, whether they will be working in a facility or in a community setting, when an individual will be expected to leave a facility, whether they will be working on a correctional facility or outside a correctional facility, what activities and programs the individual will be able to participate in while they are working in the facility, and other information.

* Failure to recognize the need for correctional officers to have a clear understanding of the rules of a facility and how to implement those rules. An example of this situation is a correctional officer who has a misunderstanding of the rules of a facility because they have not been trained in proper use of the facilities and/prison.

Situational judgments are important for correctional officers who are considering taking the skills and knowledge exam. The skills and knowledge exam should be a fair and equitable examination of the skills and knowledge of the prospective correctional officers and should include a thorough assessment of an individual’s capabilities for working in a correctional facility.

The assessment should take into consideration the correctional officer’s needs, abilities and preferences as well as the facility’s requirements and the needs and abilities of the corrections officer’s current and future coworkers. When taking the skills and knowledge assessment test it is important to avoid giving an unfair assessment that does not include all of the individual’s needs and abilities and that does not take into consideration the current or future needs and abilities of the corrections officer.

The skills and knowledge exam should include the ability to think creatively and use the knowledge and skills that an officer possesses and demonstrate the ability to apply that knowledge in a relevant and meaningful manner. This includes; assessing the individual’s ability to use the information and skills in a way that helps the corrections officer create the plan necessary to effectively manage the program or the situation, identify problems, and develop solutions.

* Assess the officer’s knowledge and skills by asking questions and conducting multiple choice questions based on the answers and then asking questions related to the subject matter. This includes identifying what the questions are based on the answer given and then determining whether the information provided is of value and importance.

* If the correctional officer’s skills and knowledge is determined to be of no value, or if they do not need to make changes based on information that is already available or can be found elsewhere, then the corrections officer should be allowed to complete the skills and knowledge assessment without the skills and knowledge assessment. This is one way to ensure that the skills and knowledge assessment will not create any unfair or disparate results.

Skills and Knowledge Assessment
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