Medical EducationOriginal Article

Examining concurrent validity between COMLEX-USA Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation and COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation

Brandon Craig, PhD; Xiaolin Wang, PhD; Jeanne Sandella, DO; Tsung-Hsun Tsai, PhD; David Kuo, DO; and Charles Finch, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 21, 2021

Accepted: April 23, 2021

Published: May 13, 2021

  • Brandon Craig, PhD, 

    National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Chicago, IL, USA

  • Xiaolin Wang, PhD, 

    National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Chicago, IL, USA

  • Jeanne Sandella, DO, 

    National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Philadelphia, PA, USA

  • Tsung-Hsun Tsai, PhD, 

    National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Chicago, IL, USA

  • David Kuo, DO, 

    The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, USA

  • Charles Finch, DO, 

    Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ, USA

J Osteopath Med; 121(8): 687-691

Context: The Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States of America (COMLEX-USA) is a three level examination used as a pathway to licensure for students in osteopathic medical education programs. COMLEX-USA Level 2 includes a written assessment of Fundamental Clinical Sciences for Osteopathic Medical Practice (Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation [L2-CE]) delivered in a computer based format and separate performance evaluation (Level 2-Performance Evaluation [L2-PE]) administered through live encounters with standardized patients. L2-PE was designed to augment L2-CE. It is expected that the two examinations measure related yet distinct constructs.

Objectives: To explore the concurrent validity of L2-CE with L2-PE.

Methods: First attempt test scores were obtained from the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners database for 6,639 candidates who took L2-CE between June 2019 and May 2020 and matched to the students’ L2-PE scores. The sample represented all colleges of osteopathic medicine and 97.5% of candidates who took L2-CE during the complete 2019–2020 test cycle. We calculated disattenuated correlations between the total score for L2-CE, the L2-CE scores for the seven competency domains (CD1 through CD7), and the L2-PE scores for the Humanistic Domain (HM) and Biomedical/Biomechanical Domain (BM). All scores were on continuous scales.

Results: Pearson correlations ranged from 0.10 to 0.88 and were all statically significant (p<0.01). L2-CE total score was most strongly correlated with CD2 (0.88) and CD3 (0.85). Pearson correlations between the L2-CE competency domain subscores ranged from 0.17 to 0.70, and correlations which included either HM or BM ranged from 0.10 to 0.34 with the strongest of those correlations being between BM and L2-CE total score (0.34) as well as between HM and BM (0.28).The largest increase between corresponding Pearson and disattenuated correlations was for pairs of scores with lower reliabilities such as CD5 and CD6, which had a Pearson correlation of 0.17 and a disattenuated correlation of 0.68. The smallest increase in correlations was observed in pairs of scores with larger reliabilities such as L2-CE total score and HM, which had a Pearson correlation of 0.23 and a disattenuated correlation of 0.28. The reliability of L2-CE was 0.87, 0.81 for HM, and 0.73 for BM. The reliabilities for the L2-CE competency domain scores ranged from 0.22 to 0.74. The small to moderate correlations between the L2-CE total score and the two L2-PE support the expectation that these examinations measure related but distinct constructs. The correlations between L2-PE and L2-CE competency domain subscores reflect the distribution of items defined by the L2-PE blueprint, providing evidence that the examinations are performing as designed.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence supporting the validity of the blueprints for constructing COMLEX-USA Levels 2-CE and 2-PE examinations in concert with the purpose and nature of the examinations.

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