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Because test scores that are part of its enlisted promotion system are not standardized, the U.S. Air Force effectively emphasizes longevity and test-taking ability differently across and within specialties, and this emphasis varies randomly over time. The random aspects of the promotion reward system mean that the Air Force cannot be sure that it is selecting individuals with the highest potential to fill positions of increased grade and responsibility. Furthermore, not standardizing scores means that some specialties randomly produce higher percentages of senior non-commissioned officers. The authors discuss a range of outcomes that the Air Force could achieve by adopting various standardization strategies. They propose a modification that would not change the policy of equal selection opportunity but would affect selection outcomes within specialties. They recommend that the Air Force implement a standardization strategy that will produce predictable outcomes that are consistent with its personnel priorities and policies.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The Weighted Airman Promotion System: Motivation, Mechanics, Reality, and Theory

  • Chapter Three

    Standardizing Test Scores

  • Chapter Four

    Testing Impact and Selection Timing

  • Chapter Five


  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Recommendation

  • Appendix A

    The Impact of WAPS Factors by Grade and AFSC

  • Appendix B

    AFSC Titles

  • Appendix C

    WAPS Changes over Time

  • Appendix D

    Periodic WAPS Revalidation

  • Appendix E

    Four Approaches to Measuring the Impacts of WAPS Factors

  • Appendix F

    Multivariate Models to Predict Selection Rates to E5

  • Appendix G

    Multivariate Models to Predict Selection Rates to E6

  • Appendix H

    Multivariate Models to Predict Selection Rates to E7

  • Appendix I

    ACT, SAT, and ASVAB Approaches to Standardization

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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