Key Indicators and Risk Assessment Applied to the Ten Commandments

I get asked all the time about what is the difference between the Key Indicator and the Risk Assessment methodologies. Generally I reply with a very academic type of response either explaining the difference given the research literature or the statistical methodologies employed. It hasn’t worked very well and there still is confusion in the field about the differences between what is a key indicator rule and what is a risk assessment rule. So I am going to take a different tack and let’s apply it to one of the most important sets of rules that has ever existed and see if it helps: The Ten Commandments.

Let’s start with the risk assessment methodology and attempt to ascertain which of the Ten Commandments would be a risk assessment rule. What immediately jumps out to me is “Thou Shall Not Kill”. This commandment would definitely fall under the “do no harm” rule of risk assessment in attempting to avoid morbidity and mortality concerns. If I were to send this out to a group of Biblical scholars and ask them for their expert opinion, I am guessing that this would be on the top of their list as well. So I feel pretty confident that we could say that “Thou Shall Not Kill” would meet the criterion of being a Risk Assessment Commandment.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the key indicator methodology and attempt to ascertain which of the Ten Commandments would be a key indicator rule. This gets a bit tricky because key indicator rules usually don’t place individuals at severe morbidity or mortality. But the key indicator rules statistically predictor overall rule compliance. So knowing this one Commandment would help us to know who is most likely to abide by all the other Commandments. That is kind of important from a societal point of view because we would like to have a lot of these people as neighbors; it would be like living in Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood. So what do we think could be a good Key Indicator Commandment? Based upon my 50 years of research in producing key indicator rules I would say that “Thou Shall Not Steal” might be a good candidate. I am guessing that there is a deep structure here where a person who is honest is most likely to abide by all Ten Commandments, so it would be an excellent Key Indicator Predictor Commandment. Of course to be certain, we would have to empirically test this hypothesis out which is the cornerstone of the key indicator rule methodology: data utilization.

I hope I have enlightened those of you who may have been somewhat uncertain about the differences between risk assessment rules and key indicator rules. Hopefully this foray into the Biblical literature via the Ten Commandments has helped to make the distinction more clear.

About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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