Being a CS makes no sense to me unless that is where one teaches. personally, I think exams are often about the money. That is: "Ho much can we squeeze out of the candidates?" It is an expensive process and unneeded or irrelevant certs. and specialties are costly. What ever happened to common sense and a deep knowledge of the sport prior to the modern era and it's endless specialties?
I hear this all the time and I think its just bunk. Like it or not, certification matters in hiring, pay, job selection, assignments and prestige so we have an organization to certify as do other nations. PSIA is non profit and driven by industry trends and requests from membership to meet those demands. I think PSIA does a fine job of delivering value considering the clout they have, the resources they have to work with and the job pressures asked of them I personally cannot see how it is possible for them to consider squeezing more out through an expensive process.
Programs like CS evolved as an attempt to meet some form of formal apparatus to differentiate within certification levels for the purposes of hiring, pay and job selection within special areas of ski schools.
What you might be concluding as an attempt to squeeze more money out of you is a response from districts trying to insulate examiners and retain examiners through preventing burnout. I am not an examiner for this reason. I don't feel like having every session be about teaching someone to a test or judging them before they go to an exam only to have them go to an exam, get nervous and come home without the pin only to shoot me and their examiners for their efforts.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to be passionate about teaching and skiing then being in an exam situation where you see little things you could correct but have to keep your mouth shut and in the end flunk 90% of your candidates? In order to keep your mouth shut about what you see in an exam and not have your guts torn out emotionally for flunking everyone you would have to distance yourself from the exam candidates and also the candidates back home. Burnout doesn't begin to really describe it. A lot of examiners just plain give up on PSIA and teaching altogether because even after they burn out and leave PSIA, everyone still wants them to teach to the test for them. I think they must draw straws for the level III exam. Short straws get the level III group. Long straws get skiing development.
I think much of the changes and requirements are attempts to meet the demands and get candidates better prepared or at least have them look in the mirror if they don't pass rather than stab the examiner for flunking them. I think much of the way exams unfold is an attempt by examiners to convince candidates whom are not going to pass to come to that conclusion and look in the mirror instead of for the dagger when they don't pass.
The coolest thing about these kinds of discussions/disagreements is that there is a lot of truth on both sides of the argument. As much as all PSIA organizations are non-profit and the Eastern division (at least) running events at cost (this dispelling the notion that there is financial incentive to force members to attend more events), there are "powers that be" that treat event fees as income and thus behave as "the more the better". Businessmen often mistake revenue for profit. We should not expect that some within PSIA would not make the same mistake. For examiners who get paid by the event and make a profit from this work, this is not a mistake for them as individuals. But it is a mistake for the membership to keep examiners who let "profit" drive their decision making on the payroll. It's hard to make the case that the number of these examiners is zero. But it's even harder to make the case that the percentage is 100.
When I look back at the 20 years of my membership, I see steadily rising costs for dues and certifications. With that as the only context, the perception that the organization is out to squeeze the membership is inevitable. I've also been involved enough in the organization to see the reasoning behind most of these cost increases. For example, lengthening the cert2 and cert3 exams from one 3 day event to 2 day events is more than a 33% cost increase because 2 events means twice the travel cost. But the reasons for the change were 1) a response from members that studying for teaching and skiing at the same time was too difficult, and 2) an attempt to improve pass rates. If you weren't in the meetings where the PSIA leadership explained the proposed changes and asked for feedback, you'd almost have to say it was bunk that the increase in certification revenue was not part of the discussion. It would be naive not to expect that within today's culture of business (e.g. insider trading) and political scandals that some would interpret this lack of discussion as proof of evil intent. The reality in the Eastern division is that, with respect to more costly exams, candidates have already been successfully squeezed for more for over 15 years now. Although pass rates went up initially after the change, it is likely that the lower number of people failing has not offset increased cost of certification for all candidates. Will this change in the East now that we have banking? Stay tuned. The argument for blatant profiteering hangs in the balance.
Like it or not certification does not matter as much as PSIA would like. It certainly does not matter much to the guests who are taking lessons. It is certainly a financial loss for the vast majority of certified part time instructors. When members don't use PSIA discounts on Suburu's, lift tickets, books, magazines, gear, hotels, etc. and see that certification impacts their pay in cents per hour instead of dollars, it is understandable the "value" of PSIA membership/certification is often questioned. Personally for me, the biggest value of PSIA certification has been the increase in my ability to make an impact in other people's lives. It is frustrating that the value discussion is more focused on the former instead of the latter. PSIA would be a much stronger organization if we could increase the effectiveness of our communications on this topic. Trying to focus on a direct dollar benefit of membership/certification is a losing proposition in the long run. The system will work much better when pay is derived from performance and discounts are a thank you bonus.
Within the topic of "impact", it is thus understandable why PSIA has increased the focus on CS accreditation. The majority of our lesson takers are children. Although I may personally disagree with linking CS accreditation to the exam process (primarily for the increase in cost), I understand why some have the strong belief that this is important. The main benefit of any exam or accreditation is the definition of a road map for acquiring skill and knowledge. PSIA's main role in the industry is to help instructors improve their skills and knowledge. Raising the bar in this area of ski teaching is long overdue. Accreditation and certification mean far less than the results that are delivered every day. These things can help you get in the door, but they won't keep you in the room. It's hard to see the value in arguing about this ... unless one likes to argue for the sake of arguing.
Those of us who have been around a while have certainly witnessed and heard from examiners that the examiners pretty much know who is going to pass within the first 2 runs. The rest of the time is effectively just justifying a "score". Yet, how many of us have not seen an exam where an examiner repeats a task either to "send a message" or give someone "an opportunity to pass"? At least at my resort I'm hearing a lot less griping from failed candidates about how unfair the process is and a lot more comments that the failed exam was a learning experience (compared to 15 years ago). Although there used to be a widespread perception that some examiners take pride in their high fail rates, I've met many who have made a special emphasis that they would much rather pass every candidate. Yet I've seen those same examiners do tasks that are "tricky". The explanation I've been given is that these tricks are designed to make evaluation easier as opposed to finding excuses for flunking candidates. The concept of "trick" tasks does wonders for fixing the problem of "prepping just for the exam tasks" as opposed to improving one's skiing. Over the years I've heard all these topics as conspiracy theories. There's not even any winning for losing in these discussions.
What is the difference between "deep knowledge" and "unneeded certs"?