04.30.04 ARE Score Reporting Follow-up |
“I am still stuck in limbo about how to feel. It seems that by withholding this information from us, they were keeping a secret.”
–Email response to “ARE Score Reporting” issue
Seven weeks ago, ArchVoices reported on a surprise delay (for candidates anyway) in ARE score reporting due to the need for a cut-score study after NCARB implemented a number of changes to its six multiple-choice ARE divisions. The intent of that issue (dated March 12, 2004) was to publicly report the delay, but we also explained the cut score process and what we felt was NCARB’s understandable decision not to tell candidates about the pending delay. Again, while we understand the sentiment quoted above, we also understand that NCARB had two choices: one they were sure about, and one they weren’t quite. They chose the sure one, and after checking it out ourselves, we understand why. (NCARB subsequently posted an explanation on its website.)
The purpose of today’s issue is to share the numerous responses elicited by March 12 issue, mostly from affected candidates. While we normally would have published those responses closer to the original issue that inspired them, we felt it made sense to wait until late-April, when the cut-score process was completed and affected candidates were told they’d recieve their scores. For those of you still waiting, you’ll be glad to know that the cut score process went remarkably well, according to NCARB Director of Examinations, Stephen Nutt. Earlier this month, the NCARB Board of Directors approved the final cut scores, and Mr. Nutt expects the first of the final result letters to be sent out to state boards as early as today. Additionally, an article describing the cut score process, with comments from professionals who participated, will appear in the next issue of NCARB’s Direct Connection newsletter.
But all this emphasis on scoring has served to underscore (get it?) the fact that candidates will never actually receive any ARE scores at all. Candidates receive either an overall “pass” or a slightly more informative “fail.” While passing is all we really care about–and all that the exam is designed to identify–there’s still a specific score that determines who passes and who fails. And virtually all the examinations for major professions publicize the scaled pass-fail score that separates public safety from public menace.
NCARB says simply that they don’t. Given what seems to be the professional testing industry standard, candidates might expect a better explanation for not publishing the specific pass-fail scores that we’ve all been patiently waiting for these past few months.
1. Pass-Fail Scores
2. Scores Versus Rates
3. CLEAR “Principles of Fairness”
4. Who Cares?
5. Responses to “ARE Score Reporting”
1. Pass-Fail Scores
The ARE is a “high stakes” examination, designed specifically to identify minimum competency. In this sense, it is fundamentally different from other tests you may have taken, such as the SAT or GRE, which are designed to rank candidates along a continuum. Professional licensing examinations like the ARE are about scoring relative to a defined standard, not about scoring well relative to other candidates. “Pass” or “fail” is really all that matters…and yet virtually every major profession publicly announces the standard scaled score needed to pass their licensing exams.
Summary of Pass-Fail ScoresMost of the people we spoke with in these other testing organizations had never thought about why their organizations publish the scaled passing score. However, we want to emphasize that with the exception of NCIDQ, this information is not simply “available,” but prominently and conveniently displayed on the testing organization’s website.
Medical Doctors: 184 (Step 3)
Registered Nurses: – 0.28 logits
Attorneys: Varies by state
Professional Engineers: 70
Interior Designers: 500
Landscape Architects: ?
Medical Doctors: Step 1: 182; Step 2: 182; and Step 3: 184
U.S. Medical Licensing Exam score information
Candidates receive: Individual scaled scores.
According to the 2004 USMLE Bulletin, most scores on the USMLE fall between 160 and 240, though the mean for first-time test takers in the U.S. is between 200 and 220. “For Steps 1, 2 CK, and 3, the official examinee score report you receive after you take a Step includes a pass/fail designation, numerical scores, and graphical performance profiles summarizing areas of strength and weakness to aid in self-assessment” (p21).
In addition to the three-digit scaled score reported above, the USMLE is also translated into a two-digit scaled score as required by various individual state boards. The two-digit pass-fail score required is 75. Overall, however, “examinees typically must answer 60-70 percent of items correctly to achieve a passing score” (p21). It’s also worth emphasizing that the USMLE exam process is the one that’s more expensive than the ARE.
Registered Nurses: – 0.28 logits
National Council of State Boards of Nursing Exam score information
Candidates receive: Pass/fail only.
The nursing examination is a “variable length adaptive test,” meaning candidates who are not obviously passing or failing the exam will continue to receive more questions until the candidate has more clearly passed or failed. As a result, the NCLEX-RN examination can be anywhere from 85 to 205 questions long. Also, the NCSBN only reports “pass” or “fail,” similar to the ARE, though a measure of the standard pass-fail score is published:
Click here to read the NCSBN’s December 2003 press release regarding a change to the pass-fail score.
Attorneys: Varies dramatically, as each state has a local exam in addition to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). For instance, in Ohio, a candidate must achieve a total score of 405 on the written (state) portion of the exam and the Multistate portion. However, in Florida the portions are weighted differently and require a total score of 136 to pass.
National Conference of Bar Examiners information
The median scaled score on the July 2002 MBE was 141, with most candidates scoring between 80 and 200. The median scaled score on the 2002 Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) was 99, with most candidates scoring between 50 and 150.
Candidates receive: Individual scaled scores.
Unlike the ARE, the MBE and MPRE are not designed solely to distinguish passing from failing candidates, and thus specific candidate score reporting is necessary, not just helpful.
Certified Professional Accountants: 75
Uniform CPA Exam score information
Candidates receive: Individual scaled scores.
From the 2004 Uniform CPA Candidate Bulletin:
“Generally, Boards of Accountancy will report scores on a numeric scale of 0-99, with 75 as a passing score. This scale does NOT represent … percent correct.’ A score of 75 reflects examination performance that represents the knowledge and skills needed to protect the public. A few Boards of Accountancy have elected to report a pass or fail status instead of numeric scores” (p25).
Professional Engineers: 70
National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES)
Candidates receive: Individual scaled scores, only to failing candidates.
The scaled pass score is the same for both the FE and PE exams, and is out of a possible score of 100–though as with the CPA exam above, this should not be interpreted as “70%” (see “Scores Versus Rates” below). NCEES reports simply a pass to successful candidates, while failing candidates receive a report listing “the percentages of correctly answered questions in each knowledge area of the exam.”
Interior Designers: 500
NCIDQ score information
Candidates receive: Individual scaled scores.
NCIDQ is in the process of updating their website, so we got this information directly from them. Even though the NCIDQ is also focused only on setting a pass-fail standard, all candidates receive a numerical score, and failing candidates receive a detailed diagnostic report. Most scores fall between 200 and 800.
Landscape Architects: Passing candidates get a pass, and failing candidates get a fail. The actual scaled score that determines which are which, is kept secret.
Candidates receive: Pass/fail only.
Architects: Passing candidates get the letter at the top of this issue. Failing candidates get a letter like this one (click here). See “landscape architects” directly above regarding the pass-fail score.
Candidates receive: Pass/faily only.
The landscape architecture board (CLARB) indicated that they don’t publish the pass-fail score standard because they want to protect candidates from uninformed employers using the individual scores to distinguish job candidates from one another. But it’s certainly possible to only give individual scores to failing candidates (as NCEES does). And anyway, potential wrongful use by individuals doesn’t begin to explain why the landscape architects couldn’t announce what the required pass-fail standard is generally. But at least they do articulate some reasons for the secrecy.
This is a good place to emphasize again that we understand that these exams are fundamentally designed to establish a minimum standard, not to rank candidates along a continuum. But that important distinction only begs the question of why the particular minimum standard should be a secret, especially when it’s not a secret in other professions.
2. Scores Versus Rates
Another important distinction is between “pass-fail scores” and “pass-fail rates.” The “pass-fail score” is a numerical target, and the lack of a scientifically determined score is what has delayed the ARE results since February. The “pass-fail rate” is that percentage of candidates who achieve the pass-fail score. To view the 2003 pass-fail rates for the ARE, announced last week, click here.
Additionally, it’s important to distinguish between raw scores and scaled scores. Because each individual administration of an ARE division is different, some candidates will encounter slightly more difficult questions than others. This means that, for instance, on an exam with 50 questions, two candidates might each answer 38 questions correctly. This number (38) would be the raw score. But if one candidate encountered more difficult questions than the other, the candidates’ scaled scores would be different.
The process of turning raw scores into scaled scores is called “equating” and is described in more detail on a number of the professional exam websites listed above. “Equating” is actually another quite impressive process that emphasizes the extent to which NCARB goes to ensure accuracy. The point, however, is that the single score that we believe is relevant to all candidates (and don’t forget the public) is the scaled score, not individual raw scores.
3. CLEAR “Principles of Fairness”
Along with sixteen other national associations of regulatory boards, NCARB belongs to an organization called the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR). CLEAR has published a document called, “Principles of Fairness: An Examination Guide for Credentialing Boards,” which includes principles that are “designed to be reasonable and, in many cases, common sense.” While there are certainly some differences of opinion among testing professionals, CLEAR emphasizes that “[t]he principles presented are those for which there appears to be a general consensus of professional opinion.”
One of these “principles of fairness” is that, “[t]he credentialing board should publish statistical data highlighting important test outcomes. These data, including the mean, pass-fail score, and pass-fail rate, should be available to candidates, the public, and the profession” (p11). Only one of these three metrics is published for the ARE.
We contacted CLEAR to be sure that we understood what they meant by “pass-fail score.” The Chair of the CLEAR Exam Resources & Advisory Committee, Lynn C. Webb, said that “yes, the pass/fail standard should be indicated, but it is not likely to be what you call an ‘actual’ (or raw) score–it’s likely to be a scaled score.” (see “Scores Versus Rates” above).
4. Who Cares?
Well, first, at least one intern in Colorado cares. As she says below, “To eliminate continued suspicion about NCARB’s process they need to fully disclose their scoring criteria.” So minimizing suspicion is perhaps a more specific reason for NCARB to care
And a reason for ARE candidates to care is that NCARB’s justification for delaying scores and for withholding the news of that delay was based on the need to adhere to testing industry standards. But you can’t adhere to industry standards when you want to withhold information from candidates, and then adhere to institutional discretion when you want to, um…withhold information from candidates again.
Unquestionably, the scoring process is complicated and potentially confusing. But we firmly believe that architects are as capable of handling complexity as accountants or doctors or nurses or attorneys or even engineers or “even” interior designers. And that’s the real reason that publicizing the pass-fail scores matters: Because it would require significant explanation of what is a complex but immensely important (and impressive) process for the entire profession and potentially the public to understand.
5. Responses to “
“Thanks for your timely edition regarding the scoring issues at NCARB. As a candidate in the throes of taking the ARE, I add my voice to those of other frustrated candidates. The secret process of scoring is incredulous given the complete reliance on technology. I have a hard time believing NCARB’s claims of complete objectivity in scoring. If the process is foolproof and deserving of accolades as some might claim–why is the whole process shrouded in secrecy? If scoring is to be truly objective, there needs to be a numerical equation quantifying a passing or failing scenario. Is it 70%? 80%? 90%? To eliminate a continued suspicion about NCARB’s process–they need to fully disclose their scoring criteria. A truly objective scoring system has no need for a human element in processing scores, thus results can be presented on the screen within seconds of completion of the exam. As others have expressed, the added time needed to establish scoring criteria as a result of the change to the exam highlights and raises additional questions as to the subjectivity of the scoring process.”
–Janice Miller, Intern Architect (Denver, CO) ARE Score Reporting“
“Thank you. Several of us in our firm were wondering why we were not receiving results. Your article did a much more satisfying job explaining the issue then the form letter from NCARB.”
–Matthew T. Herbert, Design Collective, Inc. (Baltimore, MD)
“This issue brings back the anxiety and emotions associated with waiting for results from the ARE. It is one of the rites of passage in becoming a licensed architect. I remember waiting months without hearing, and eventually made myself physically sick. At that point I stayed home from work and called the DC board. The conversation went something like this:
‘Hello, I am calling to find out whether or not I passed the ARE.’
(incredulous) ‘You didn’t get a letter yet?’
‘Uhm, no.’ (panicked thought: What does that mean? Did they send out the passing letters first? Did I fail? What? WHAT?)
‘Hang on, let me see if I can find the list.’ (aside) ‘Anybody seen the architects’ list?’ (sounds of rustling papers and a painfully long wait–maybe only thirty seconds, but it seemed like forever) ‘Here it is. What’s your name again?’
‘Burns. John Burns.’
‘OK, let me check. (pause) Yeah, you passed.’
That’s how I found out. I do not remember the rest of the call, but I eventually received the letter. The actual license showed up several months later, in a mangled envelope with a chunk torn out of the side, and bent in half to fit the mail slot, but that is another indignity you can look forward to.
–John A. Burns, FAIA, Acting Manager & Principal Architect, HABS/HAER/HALS
“An excellent piece of journalism. See, I think you guys should byline this. You should take credit for it.”
–Charles Linn, FAIA, Senior Editor, Architectural Record (New York)
“I feel like a crusty old guy in saying this, but…we used to take the test in June, and would not hear the scores until late-October or -November, just in time to start studying for the test next June. To make matters worse, we had to go stay for a week at a hotel–spending vacation time and money just to take it. Whatever the inconvenience at this point, it is still better than it was.”
–Paul Wilhelms, AIA, Senior Associate, HOK (St. Louis, MO)
“NCARB made the right call? Huh?
Why couldn’t they have just said that starting on X date exam results would take 8-10 weeks to report?
They could have explained the valuable exercise behind the delay, and by leaving the process timeline open (all results will take 8-10 weeks for the foreseeable future) there would be no incentive for anyone to wait to sit the exams. All of this could have been announced in a positive information campaign to educate state boards and prospective exam takers. When NCARB had enough data, they could announce the great news that the analysis was complete and exam results would be returned faster.
Instead of informing people ahead of time and looking for a way to make this a positive event, they resorted to their usual secretive, mistrusting, and disrespectful conduct. It is pathetic that they even saw this situation as a Catch 22.
Frankly, I’m disgusted with the way they handled it. (And for the record, I’m not sitting any exams & have suffered no hardships from this episode)
–Mark Palermo, STUDIOS Architecture (Washington, DC)
“I purposefully waited through Christmas and January to start the ARE right after Feb. 1st, 2004 because I wanted to start with the new exam and study a bit more. Now after completing two of the multiple-choice exams and receiving NCARB’s letter about the delay, I am bewildered. The morality that NCARB has used here knowing full well that they were withholding information pertaining to the delay to candidates results currently taking the exam in February is comparable to the phrase; ‘It is easier to ask for forgiveness, than for permission.’ I am dumbfounded as to why they would not have included this information in the ARE Guidelines Version 3.0 book that they mailed to me last year. I would have still started the exam in February knowing that my results would be delayed, but given to me at the same time as other candidates nationally. The ARE Guidelines Version 3.0 includes all of the rules for me to follow precisely for my efforts to be validated and not dismissed as NCARB repeats several times throughout this guidelines book. Now after the insult of receiving a generic letter (mass produced) like the kind I get from the phone or utility companies, I am learning even more to feel slighted.
For the record, I am not for testing after graduation, but I agree that the NCARB could do a lot better than their current standard operating procedure. Finally, I am also in the majority of graduate architects in the country that truly appreciate ArchVoices website, focus, and attention to Architect(ural) concerns nationally and internationally. Thank you so much for your efforts.
–Eric Loy, Graduate Architect, Mayes, Sudderth & Etheredge, Inc. (Lexington, KY)
“Thanks again for a wonderful issue. You are doing a great service to the profession and this effort to ‘fill the gap’ proves the point.”
–David Hinson, AIA, Associate Professor & Program Chair, School of Architecture, Auburn University (Alabama)
“OUTSTANDING edition!!!. ‘More than I ever wanted to know’ about the ‘new’ methods of examination.
Again, thank you for keeping an ‘old’ architect on your email list.”
–David L. Bowie, CCS, CCCA, AIA, CSI, ALA
“Hi, I received a copy of your email regarding the explanations and complaints on the ARE 3.0. I began taking the exams in November and have attempted to complete all the exams at a steady pace. The main reason for doing this was this: I spent four years of my adult life (I am 35 now) in a full-time MArch program, then another year completing the minimum IDP requirements for Florida in order to begin taking the exam and now three months actually preparing and taking the exams. I passed the first six exams and was forced to take the last three beginning after February 1, as there were scheduling conflicts with the testing center and I needed a minimum of two weeks per exam to study. Now, while I was taking the first six exams, I was informed that the exam is ‘evolving’ into ‘Version 3.0.’ I was not pleased to hear that the rules were changing on me in the middle of taking the exams and that new subject matters were added. Besides the changing of the rules, I have a major complaint to make about the ‘improved version’ of the ARE. Because February 1st fell on a Sunday, I scheduled the Pre-Design exam for February 2nd. By luck and pure chance, found a ‘supplement’ to the ARE on NCARB’s website, which included the green building and sustainable design additions to the exams. Unfortunately, I did not get this information until the morning of the exam and was unable to study this portion. Also, when I showed up to the exam, I spent almost two hours at the testing center, waiting for NCARB to attempt to fix a computer problem! The program would not start because it was ‘a new version’ and I was told I needed to re-schedule! It is strange that I would have had to pay a re-scheduling fee if I was at fault, but if NCARB screws up I am not compensated for this inconvenience. And, only now, I am told four weeks after I take the exams that my results are going to be held until the end of April.
I am appalled by this unprofessional conduct and the hell I have to go through (and have gone through for close to six years now) just to get a professional architectural license. Looking back, I could have gone back to school, studied medicine and already be a practicing doctor, making a lot more money than I ever will in this profession. It is a sad state of affairs and I think it is unfortunate that myself and other co-workers and fellow graduates all feel the same: NCARB is an organization that is unprofessional, is making money off of underpaid interns and is constantly changing the rules and causing major trauma in our lives.”
–Eric Glinsboeckel, Assoc. AIA
“Thank you very much for putting this article together. I am still stuck in limbo about how to feel. It seems that withholding this information from us, they were keeping a secret. This act makes me not want to trust them. They have failed to communicate their motives (I don’t think they even tried) and have made me believe they are not an honest organization.
Thank you again for shedding some light on this mystery. We will have to wait and see how this mess is resolved.”
–Jose Reyes, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates LLP (New York, NY)
“Thank you for taking the time to explain the reasons and the process that have resulted in the delay.”
–John Anderson, Assoc. AIA, Project Manager, Art Architects (Phoenix, AZ)
“I recently took the Site Design graphic section on February 19. I assume that a great delay should be expected in getting the results for this test also? I am totally baffled that it takes such an extremely long time to get the results back on a computerized test, particularly the multiple-choice portion. I have had nothing but delay-after-delay in trying to get through this process. First, with NCARB, and then with the State of Florida. It seems that I’ve been paying these extremely expensive fees just to have the privilege of being used and abused by the system.”
–John H. Curtis, HKS, Inc. (Tampa, FL)
“I read your article on the ARE with both a little frustration and understanding.
First, it was not easy knowing that I am amongst the guinea pigs for this process. It was even more irritating that the sample consists of just 300-400 candidates for the entire country.
I would however like to bring up several points you missed:
1. Trust–As a candidate what NCARB did with us interns, withholding information pissed me off mightily. But, basically, as an intern, I don’t expect NCARB to have my best interests at heart any more. Next time something like this occurs, I will advise interns to hold off taking exams.
2. Bias–If NCARB’s intention was to get an unbiased set, I’m sorry, but that is not going to happen. Also, the time of the year matters. This is the peak of winter. In my area, I estimate that 75% of candidates take their exams during winter. Will that not skew the results away from warm area candidates who have their own preferred times.
3. Foolishness of it all–Do they really think we are that dumb? Two weeks into the ‘cut process’ period, everyone here knew what NCARB was doing. I cancelled my multiple-choice tests for March & April and switched to the graphic divisions. What now?
4. Lack of Professionalism–I think everyone agrees that we are professionals and must behave professionally. What NCARB did was unprofessional in the extreme. First, they tried to hide this information from us. Several insiders advised me to take my exams quickly before the change, and I took Structures accordingly. The poor saps who don’t have such ‘contacts’ were screwed. What does this say about NCARB as an organization? Personally I can tell you that if NCARB had come out and said this is what we have to do, please help us keep this as clean and unbiased as possible, as a group, interns would have responded professionally.
As it is the whole thing left a bad taste and NCARB with very little credibility in my eyes.
I hope you will address these issues in a follow-up article, so NCARB can know just how we ‘foot soldiers’ feel.”
–Theo Asir, Shaughnessy Fickel & Scott Architects (Kansas City, MO)
“Thank you! Yet again, you have served as the most relevant, most helpful, and most supportive resource to me during my IDP/ARE process. I took a multiple-choice exam in February and was extremely disheartened by the content change, technical difficulties, and notification of delayed response that I experienced.
I am afraid to notify NCARB about the issues I had with the latest exam, because it seems less risky to remain anonymous through the process. I will not discuss my concerns with the content, because that is against the rules, I think, but I did experience technical difficulties that I will share with you. I had a question cut off from the screen, with no ability to scroll it into view, and the five-minute window appeared two seconds from the end of the test.
I left the exam frustrated. After the exam was over, I immediately notified the test center about certain questions that I challenged as well as the technical difficulties. I did not get assurance that they would follow-up with NCARB or Prometric. The test center did not fill out any forms or write down notes. Before receiving NCARB’s letter indicating the late-April response date I had already decided to hold off on taking more exams for several weeks. I did not want to be a guinea pig again.
However, your latest issue clarifies my experience and gives me a little more faith in the process. I may jump back in and join the crowd, especially if numbers will help expedite the process. I do still hold serious reservations about the content changes as well as the sufficiency of the published ‘supplement.’ If I have to re-take my most recent exam, I will be researching information far outside of the standard study materials and the general practices of my firm.
I hope the additional resources that you included for competency assurance and assessment standards are being used by NCARB to evaluate their new exams. I also hope the quote about ‘…not being advised by professional exam developers with PhD’s who do this for a living’ did not come from an NCARB professional. We deserve better than that. We are professionals, they should be.
Thanks for addressing these very important issues. NCARB is lucky to have you to mop up their messes. They should put you guys on payroll.”
–Listed anonymously (for the health, safety, and welfare of the author)
“As an architecture school graduate, licensed/registered general contractor in 26 states, and President/Owner of a medium-sized construction company, I find it amazing that architects can take testing to an unbelievably complicated art! I work with architects and architecture firms across the country both large and small, and continue to believe that the best thing for young architects is to give them field experience at problem-solving their designs.
Several years ago, after working under a licensed architect, I was prepared to sit for the exam, however the rules were changing and continue to change at such a pace that I am now not even sure I qualify any more. Now that the testing continues to get more and more complex, and even those in-the-know can’t seem to figure it out, I see little reason to seek out my registration. I currently have two licensed architects that work for me as well as a landscape architect. It just doesn’t seem worth it for me to pursue my registration.
I will say that I feel for those young people in our industry who have to put up with these random acts of change.
I don’t intend this to be offensive to anyone, but wanted to share my feelings for those caught up in the lack of communication.”
–Al Hawthorne, Jr., Western Commercial Construction (Fallbrook, CA)
“I am a 26-year-old ARE candidate from Austin, Texas. I took my MEP exam on February 7th and have indeed been running to the mailbox every day since the end of the month. It stinks that I had to learn about all this from a website, but fortunately I don’t have high expectations for the performance of bureaucracies.
I’m not alone in having experienced some frustration with the ARE and NCARB. I agree that things are not perfect. But if I think about things rationally the cut-score process I read about sounds like it comes up with something approaching a consensus on what the minimal amount of skill for a licensed architect might be. And I personally experience more complaining-yet-laziness from my fellow interns than I think self-motivated, non-entitled 20-somethings should express.
That is not the reason I am writing.
I do not need to be told ‘Sorry guys, but NCARB is right on this one.’ That kind of tone, conversational as it may have been intended to be, is absolutely inappropriate when a matter such as this arises. And the sentiment was even worse: to reuse verbiage from your own website, you are supposed to be experts on internship, not on journalism. The kind of editorializing that came at the end of what had been an informative article was just wrong.
Unfortunately, it represents the institutionalization that I have seen occur during the life of your website. From the alphabet-firm corporate sponsors of your feel-good essay contest to the apologetics for NCARB I read today, y’all have become what you purportedly rail against: The Man. You have sold out.
I’m sorry, but I used to read your site because it represented a sharp, angry voice against the ‘average white males’ of a profession who seem to be bent on keeping sharp, angry voices out of the discussion. Presumably you are young…and part of being young is being angry and being idealistic and having a theoretical belief that things as they are can become better if we only try. What were the 60s all about, after all?
And…if there was going to be editorializing, why not present both sides of the issue? Or more sides of the issue?
In my mind, the reason there were no other points of view presented was because you all have finally bought into the current system and are now serving to propagate it. Offering small bits of chastisement about lack of communication or scoring immediacy–especially at the END of an article such as yours–is meant to divert the reader from the meat of your editorial position which is: ‘NCARB is right.’ You said it yourselves.
I read the article, gathered the facts, and my conclusion was diametrically opposed to yours.
My freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin I had to take calculus from a man who was by all accounts an academic sadist. I don’t remember how many people were in the class in September–over 100 is all I can say–but to my recollection only four people passed the final exam. Only four people had mastered calculus enough to score a 50% on his exam. At least there was an objective standard: 50%.
To me, if a license is supposed to represent competency to protect life and welfare, then its attainment should be based on a definitive and objective demonstration of the abilities required to provide such protection. You can’t determine a load on a beam three out of four times? Then you’ll never know if the beams you draw will fail. You can’t remember how to determine how wide an exit door is supposed to be for 9 out of 13 questions? Then someone’s blood may be on your hands in case of fire. You get six questions about plumbing vents and yet you think a vent stack is just something that you saw sticking out of an otherwise beautiful roof on a firm-sponsored ‘dear Lord the CAD monkeys aren’t getting site-observation credits!’ field trip? You do not deserve to be an architect.
There was no presentation of that view in your coverage. Or of the view that perhaps it should be the individual state boards themselves who determine pass/fail rates since, after all, this is a giant nation where different issues are important in different areas. I mean, come on, I live in Texas: why should it matter if I know how to size the snow load on a roof? (I acknowledge the flawed nature of the states’-rights argument…I included it to make a point.) There was no presentation of the view that, given the current lack of candidates, NCARB should have offered discounts on exams taken during a specific period–and announced it a year ago–so that more motivated, qualified candidates could take the exam and thus speed the process of verification. (Does it really cost $92 to administer an exam division? And if it does, is that $92 spent efficiently?) None of this was presented and, dear sirs, I have reason believe the omission was by design.
I recommend that each and every one of you get out from in front of your AutoCRAP stations and validation conference workshop seminars and re-read ‘The Favored Circle’ by Dr. Garry Stevens. Read it well. Decide if you want to enter the yacht-building contest or if you’d rather work to have it replaced by a contest to see who can design and build the best homeless shelter or AIDS clinic. There are people doing these things…you write about them…do you want to join them?
And then put me back on your mailing list. Because until then I want you to remove my email address. And while you’re at it, remove my entry (such as it is, because I have erased the contents) from your essay contest. I just wrote my essay right now and am submitting it for your consideration.
Lastly, print my name and email address if you excerpt any part of this email in your website. I will still be reading your site to see if y’all have gotten back on the ball. And I would love to debate anyone who disagrees with me. By email, of course. I do not have time to put on khakis and get on a plane to debate someone in person. I actually do perform all the functions of a licensed architect and really, I hate to fly.”
–William Hodge (Austin, TX)
[Ed. Note: We responded to Mr. Hodge, as we try to do with most of the comments we receive from readers (though maybe a bit more in-depth in Mr. Hodge’s case). But we didn’t think it appropriate to include our response here, as we’re most interested in using this space as a venue for readers. We do, however, feel strongly that it’s important for young people to have a public venue to express their full range of emotions, and so we specifically invite criticism of ArchVoices and even insults if you’re so inclined. We’ll print ’em.]
“Your article on ARE Score Reporting is very much appreciated. Thanks for the clarification. It is unfortunate that it takes another organization (ArchVoices) to publish and explain what NCARB should have been doing instead.”
–Celine Hardan Gladwin
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