"A Letter to ARE Candidates".... Why am I not surprised!!!!

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    Kathleen Taus

    The lack of details on the reduced questions and increase in time is unsettling. Also this release didn't address accessibility for left handed candidates, when can we expect to know what accomodations will be provided? As of now NCARB is creating an undue hardship.

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    Heather Woodcock

    It's disappointing that they're adding the whiteboard as another thing to have to click back and forth on. Do they not understand how important that this whiteboard can act like pencil and paper? If it's hidden behind anything it is 100% useless to test takers. Who cares what "test experts" think. We're the ones who have to sit the exam, not them. Have any of the NCARB staff taken the ARE with the whiteboard to test its ability to do what we NEED? I highly doubt it.

    I'm also an NCARB advisor and the number of people freaking out about this who I keep tabs on is a lot. Many are stalling their testing and I have a few that are reconsidering being licensed because they moved the goalposts mid-version and what's to say they don't do it again in 6 months.

    I'm disappointed in NCARB. No amount of press releases will change that.

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    Kathleen Taus

    Laura, I sent an email suggesting that to the President of the Board on Friday. I have not received a response.

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    Brandon Wang

    I am highly disappointed in reading the letter from the Board. Like the OP writes, it basically dusts test takers under the rug in pursuit of a false sense of equity between in-person and remote testing. Kathleen's point about the vagueness of the reduced questions and added time is on point. These are important details that shouldn't wait to be released. As the AXP coordinator for my office, I'm very worried that these changes will negatively impact my colleagues actively taking exams.

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    Christopher Nicholls

    "The new tool will be accessed like the existing calculator and references available today. The whiteboard is designed to work at both onsite and online testing locations with a standard mouse and keyboard."

    My Letter to The Board of Directors:

    So we're supposed to write out our equations, diagrams and thoughts with a mouse digitally on the screen? Have any of them actually tried this out? This is not an efficient or even legible alternative to not offering pen and paper anymore and they should quite frankly be embarrassed at this decision. This is the equivalent of using Microsoft Paint to put together floor plans. 

    At first I had thought they would be offering tablets and digital pens, which might've been a reasonable alternative, but this is unacceptable and the tone of the email is also, unacceptable. We're being told to deal with it. They know they have power over us because how else would one get their license.

    Do we have a list of emails available to create a professional discussion with the directors? 

     

     

    This is embarrassing. 

     

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    James Shelton

    The don't care because all roads to licensure go through them. I would be surprised if we can actually move the whiteboard off to one side so that at the very least they didn't overlap the test questions. Testing at home (or the office) on a larger monitor would be useful for this, but that's assuming we'd be able to not have the full screen up on the exam (highly unlikely). If I thought I could manage it, I would move all my tests up before Nov. 16, but I'd prefer not to do that and possibly be retaking them anyway. What a farce.

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    Robin Kuc

    Authority Having Jurisdiction Over NCARB

    Everyone should keep in mind (in all business matters, not just this dispute) that you have legal rights as a consumer.  NCARB is a non-profit corporation and as such, it falls under the jurisdiction (AHJ) of the Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia because that is where its headquarters are located.  The AG’s office is where consumer complaints are filed.  I spoke briefly with the AG’s office to confirm this.

    If you believe there exists, or can furnish, reasonable evidence of unaccountability, gross incompetence, unfair business practices, discrimination, malfeasance, unethical behavior, or anything similar, you can go online and file a complaint.  At the link below, click “I would like to” in the upper right corner and then click “file a consumer complaint” in the dropdown menu.

    Quoting the AG’s website: “If you choose, we will also refer your complaint to one of our mediators. In many cases, OAG’s staff is able to help consumers and merchants to resolve their disputes. An OAG staff person will review your complaint and contact you. If you have any questions, you may contact the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (202) 442-9828.”  (You will be asked to leave a message and they will return your call.)

    It also states:  “We’ll forward your complaint and any documents you provide to the company and work to get you a response – generally within 15 days.”  (My emphasis.)

    Seems to me that a complaint petition signed by over 2000 consumers qualifies as a “document”.

    https://oag.dc.gov/

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    Matthew Young

    That letter was incredibly tone deaf and felt patronizing. It is difficult to understand how we will be able to sketch out quick equations and diagrams. Also if the whiteboard is only available a couple weeks before the exams require it, how will that allow for any familiarity.  If its been decided why are we unable to test it out?

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    Dean Schimmenti

    To Robin Kuc,  this is perfect.  Would someone be willing to put together an eloquent "complaint compilation" that we might be able to use as a guide to file these complaints?  We need to come together to make our voices heard to these incompetent "leaders".

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    Robin Kuc

    Dean, that's a good idea.  I can help but have an exam scheduled for one month from now and so am a bit time-constrained (as most of you are, also).  Maybe it would be a good idea for someone (if anyone has some time) to set up a collaborative google doc.  I can be reached at this email:  business450-action@yahoo.com

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    Richard Balkins (Edited )

    The sketch part would be problematic but some math problems is not an issue to write out. Taking Christopher's exam, you can actually use a text box approach (like the text box in MS Paint) and type the math equation easy:

    200 x 200 = 

    20x20 = 400 x 100 = 200x200 = 40,000 because it is just a matter of doing 2x2 and add the zeros. There is two zeros that follows the 2 in each of the 200. 2x2 = 4. There is 4 zeros in the two 200s so 4 followed by four zeros is 40000 which is 40,000. More complex math equations would be something like the math equations used to size a beam mathematically not by using a load-span table when you need to calculate the section size required on both the width of the beam and depth of the beam with a tributary load. 

    How the hell would I be doing that efficiently without pencil/pen & scratch paper with the digital whiteboard? The calculator better work as good as the calculator that comes with Windows 10 computers. Not only does the calculator buttons absolutely must work, it must work absolutely correctly even to a more rigorous standard than Microsoft did for the calculator app of MS Windows because this is an exam and a legal standard of care to be expected given the importance of the exam software and the consequences.

    If MS screw up, it's a non-issue and Microsoft can simply fix it via a Windows update patch. We are not allowed to use alternative calculating tools than that which is provided by the exam so we don't have a choice therefore it better work 100% correctly ALL the time without failure. Failure is not an option.

    If the test candidate mis-entered numbers or screwup on an equation and the math steps involved then that's their fault but if the calculator does weird stuff because of buggy code then it's NCARB's fault because it is your exam and you are responsible to make sure your software consultant/vendor delivered on the software meeting the specifications that were set forth and agreed upon between NCARB and your software consultant/vendor. You have an contractual agreement with them not us. That's falls into stuff like party to contract. Our contract is between us and NCARB. You deliver a fair exam. We take the exam. You need to deliver exam competently so it's fair. If it is buggy then the exam is not fair and the exam itself is a cheat because when the software crashes, we lose time on the exam because we only have a finite amount of time to be at the test center for our exams and even remote proctoring is going to have a scheduled exam appoint window and it isn't 24/7. If it takes a half hour to fix or address the issue, that's a half hour we lose. The exam appointment time doesn't just add a half hour. 

    PS: It is unethical to deliver exam on buggy software that causes people to fail tests and end up milking them for more money to retake when it is systematic problems with the software and tools supplied with the software. The proctoring staff don't know jack about software development or how to fix those types of issues. NCARB doesn't know jack about software development for the most part. You know how to use consultants to develop these pieces and even at that, it appears to be of questionable competency. This is why I am ratcheting up the standard on NCARB to be accountable and responsible. I hear many complaints so its an apparent track record.  

     

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    Richard Balkins (Edited )

    The tone of this letter is kind of bothersome because you are creating an unnecessary controversy over remote proctoring. I want everyone to understand that REMOTE PROCTORING IS NOT THE ISSUE. 

    Most of us would support remote proctoring as an option for test takers with appropriate security issues addressed in the process. This is why there wasn't as much noise or issue with remote proctoring when it was first announced. It is NCARB's own specific implementation in terms of policies when other exams that deals with heath, safety, and welfare including the CPBD certification because us building designers like architects and others deals with those issues every day. 

    I want NCARB to be successful with delivering remote proctoring but also traditional proctoring of the ARE. I would at the very least continue to allow scratch paper & pencil/pen at both remote and test center. I already mentioned how to take care of scratch paper for exam security reason. Use a P-5 to P-7 paper shredder. P-5 should be enough. P-7 security level paper shredders are expensive. P-5 security level paper shredders cuts the pieces using cross cut at a size too small for most any one is going to go through the effort of trying to piece back together. P-6 is one that meets DOD/NSA, U.S. Military, national security organizations, standards. P-7 is for stuff so top secret that you need very high security clearance to see such documents and they are at the most stringent level of paper shredding standards. Those documents requiring P-6 or P-7 are above NCARB's security clearance and usually pertains to more important things than anyone's notes and scribbles. Security Level P5 is the minimum level I recommend for paper shredders to shred the these scratch paper. You could get away with P4 but P5 is probably the sweet spot because you are looking of 8-1/2 x 11 sheet being shredded into over 3000 pieces. Between 3800 and 6,000 pieces. P-6 is at 6300 to 15,000 pieces. How hard is it to already piece together a puzzle of 1,000 pieces. Now imagine trying to work with a puzzle of 4,000 to 5,000 pieces that is only the size of a single sheet. Not imagine 3-8 times as many pieces when you shred them together and now you have like 3-8 puzzles each with over 4,000 pieces each all jumbled together and you have to sort them all. Now, your pieces are tiny little pieces smaller than a 3/8" any any dimension.

    In short, if you pieced all those together correctly, YOU NEED THERAPY BECAUSE YOU'RE CERTIFIED FOR THE PADDED ROOM.

    What P-level are the paper shredders used by Prometric or PSI ? (rhetorical)

    https://www.abe-online.com/paper-shredder-levels-of-security

     

     

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    Robin Kuc

    Hey Erik,

    I'm with you on all your points -- except the age one.  I happen to be over 55 and am proficient++ with Revit and many other programs.  Even have all my faculties  ;-)

    Seriously, though, age discrimination is a real thing, especially in any field involving tech.

    I could be wrong, but I believe the Board members are volunteers.  Everyone else is paid.  Can anyone confirm?

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    Robin Kuc

    Thank you, Laura.  I am not on Facebook due to longstanding personal principle reasons and unfortunately (for me) that prevents me from joining your group.

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    Richard Balkins

    To understand the structure of the Board of Directors.

    All 54 or 55 member boards (architectural licensing boards) are what in the corporate world be best described as shareholders. They own NCARB. This is a non-profit corporation which is different than a for-profit corporation on a number of areas under law. 

    Every member board has a representative of their board (a board member) represent their respective state licensing board for annual voting and such. The Board of Directors are like officers on a church council. Church council members being members of the congregation. The Board of Directors of NCARB is basically elected to represent the licensing boards overseeing the employed staff from the CEO down to the lowest level position on a more regular basis but the day to day operations of NCARB is ran by NCARB staff from the CEO down to the lowest level position. 

    Board of Directors and licensing board members can not receive wages or salaries. They may get a little stipend and coverage for certain costs but it is not like they are getting a salary from being on their licensing boards OR their service on NCARB.

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    Richard Balkins

    Erik, you simply put term limits and they do have turn overs. They have to be on the board or would be finishing their last year on their respective licensing boards. The age demographics of licensing boards are customarily more elderly because those individuals have risen to board principals or just recently retired from their firms but still have an active license and maybe working part-time but otherwise receive a retirement pension and has the time to serve. Most people that are younger just don't have the time because they are full-time workers. In addition, to serve on a board as an "architect" member, you often have to have so many number of years of post-licensure experience and again..... they are APPOINTED by their state governors to serve on their respective state licensing boards. 

    If you are not a firm principal, you probably are not going to be serving on licensing boards and therefore would not be able to serve on NCARB Board of Directors. 

     

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    Richard Balkins

    With Non-profit corporations, you can't give shareholders dividends. If we are going to get too prude about pure ethics, no one serving public in any capacity should have financial stake or interests in private for-profit entities. That basically eliminates the licensing boards because no one can serve on such. The biggest ethical issue with Line-Up appears to be an employee has equity interest in a private entity that is serving NCARB while he is being paid a salary which means he is making money off of them. Michael Armstrong isn't required to comply with AIA Ethics, he's not an architect. NCARB isn't AIA, either. 

     

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    Richard Balkins (Edited )

    Leah, true.

    Lawyer profession has their own code of conduct per the jurisdiction of licensure as a lawyer and any possible code of ethics that are by any sort of professional associations for attorneys/lawyers.

    If you note: even architect licensing board's code of conduct (with few exceptions) applies only to activities associated with an architect's practice of architecture. It does not cover every activity that person does outside the scope of their license like activities that most certainly does not require a license or even related that closely to a licensed practice.

    Similarly, state bars' code of conduct applies similarly. If the person's activity isn't practice of law (like business management of a "non-law practice" type of business such as NCARB).

    Mr. Armstrong is not NCARB's legal counsel as far as I know. As long as Mr. Armstrong's involvement with NCARB is not providing legal counsel for NCARB, code of conduct for lawyers by state bars (and even DC/Federal "bar") do not apply. It's a grey area and we have already seen how shady lawyers can be on national wide news coverage in the past 4 year in relation to a particular DC resident.

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    William Dubois

    Here is my proposal for scratch paper.

    When you sign up for an exam you indicate if you would like scratch paper. NCARB sends you scratch paper in an envelope you do not open until test time. The paper will be a randomly selected color (light green, yellow, etc.) and have a QR code in the corner, both of which are random but assigned to the individual testing appointment.

    During testing intake the proctor watches the tester open the envelope and remove the paper. The proctor verifies over the webcam each page is blank. The color can be verified and the QR code can be scanned by the proctor over webcam so it can be confirmed the tester has the correct paper from NCARB and no other paper.

    When the exam is complete the proctor watches the candidate place all of the scratch paper into a second envelope provided by NCARB with their return address.

    You could also have the candidates supply their own paper that gets examined by proctor and do QR stickers that testers that testers must attach to their paper and send in after the test. 

    If NCARB can verify your testing space is clear of clutter they can verify you are using the paper you are supposed to. It is not as easy as banning scratch paper, but the burden should be placed on the organization being paid to create the testing, not the testers.

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    Tony Young

    William,

    I like that idea it would take additional work for NCARB but I like it. They would only have to mail those candidates taking exams at home scratch paper, seems logical.

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    Richard Balkins

    Really, all that is necessary is regular scratch paper. All they need to do is check that they are blank and no writing, scribbles, etc. during checkin (even when returning from break). Scratch paper used prior to break can possibly be required to be shredded before leaving for the break and then on return the check-in procedure. All of which if executed consistently as procedure would safeguard the exam regarding scratch paper. Most exam content exposed was never due to recording on scratch paper any exam content but plain memory recollection of certain exam items to sufficient accuracy.

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    Hans-Christian Karlberg (Edited )

    Yesterday, after my exam, the Prometric agent asked me to place my scratch paper in the shredder, which was lying right by the check-in desk. So it got shredded. I don't see how that piece of paper would add that much to NCARB's overhead cost for it to be an idea worth eliminating.

    I actually drew a similar SQ.FT. sketch as posted above by Christopher Nicholls for that exam to determine the variables of what exactly I needed to include into the calculation. We architects draw by hand as a way to think. If you take this away from us, you are testing future accountants. We architects value critical thinking, drawing, geometry, ethics, diversity.  We don't value being deprived of using pen and paper.

    Also, the online calculator in the exam is abominable and the exhibits in the case studies load excruciatingly slow.

    Thanks for listening.

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