Planning for Validation? Here’s How to Start

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Planning for Validation? Here’s How to Start

Validation is an essential part of using any risk assessments.

Governments, policymakers, and practitioners rely on risk assessments to support recidivism reduction strategies and resource allocation in jurisdictions across the country. And yet, only about half of states using risk assessments report validating them within the past 5 years.Even if the assessment tool you’re using has been validated on other populations in other jurisdictions, you don’t know if the tool is really working for YOUR population in YOUR jurisdiction unless you validate it using local data.

Completing a validation study:

  • Confirms that the instrument retained its predictive ability when implemented in a new jurisdiction
  • Determines if the risk instrument being used is accurately predicting the likelihood of re-offense and/or failure to appear
  • Ensures predictions are neutral with regard to race and gender

Additionally, completing a validation study requires some advance planning. As you prepare to engage with an independent peer-review team, there are many important decisions to be made.  Consider the following requirements to help you get started:

  • You must have enough adequate data. Typically, jurisdictions need 2-3 years’ worth of assessment data. A power analysis can be completed to determine exactly how many assessments are needed.
  • You should expect it to take time. Validation studies require several hundred hours to complete. This includes time for data collection, research analysis, report generation and the final presentation of the results.
  • You need a point person. With all the time and resources required to complete a validation study, you can streamline the process and minimize confusion by assigning one person to be the primary point of contact and the liaison between stakeholders and the research team.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your validation study, there are a few internal decisions your agency needs to make:

  • Which population(s) will be the focus of the research (probation, parole, composite)?
  • What is your agency’s definition of recidivism?
  • What data sources and stakeholders are used to track court are used to track criminal history? What permissions will be needed to access these sources?

After you get into the process, you’ll find there are more decisions to be made, but these give you a good starting point.

Don’t wait to start assessing your assessment! Whether you’re ready to start the validation process today or are just starting the conversation, we can help. Our business was built by leading criminal justice researchers, practitioners and seasoned project managers available to answer your questions and walk you step by step through the process.

Give us a call today to get started.

1 The Council of State Governments Justice Center 50-State structured interviews, August 2017