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Should PSIA have a nationally standardized exam?

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
This should stir up a lot of conversation. Or at least I hope it will!

For over 20 years I have been examining in 2 divisions- the West and RM. During that time, I have seen no less than 15 different exam formats and criteria. Added to those suggested by exchange examiners I have come in contact with, I would guess that there have been at least that many more.

I appreciate and realize the history, and the politics of such an issue, but it begs to be asked every once in a while.

Therefore, the question.

Should PSIA National set the standard, and format for a National Exam at all 3 levels?Should PSIA National set the exam standard, and format for a National Exam at all 3 level? :
post #2 of 66
Hello Vail SnoPro--Welcome to EpicSki (and it's about time you showed up around here!).

As far as a nationally standardized exam goes--as you suggest, there are LOTS of factors to weigh for that one, but my feeling is that it would cause a lot more problems than it would solve. The present system, in which PSIA-National determines the standard, but each region determines just how they will train and examine to that standard, is not perfect. But trying to create a standardized format nationwide would be VERY difficult, with the huge diversity of needs, resorts, and terrain, not to mention the egos involved....

As you say, though--worth discussing now and then.

You doing any exams or clinics at Vail this final week of the season?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 66
No doubt - there's too much different lingo from coast to coast, and you never know what you get from division to division. It almost seems like it's a contest to see which exam is "harder", and those certified elsewhere seem to think they are somehow better because the standards are different. Of course, it would be nice to have continuity within PSIA in general, since, at least in PSIA-RM, the criteria is different from examiner to examiner, and, since there is only one examiner for the two day period, objectivity has been tossed out the window...
post #4 of 66
Of course, my view may soften by Friday, depending on how I do on my Level III's the next two days...

I'll take good karma from all of you out there!
post #5 of 66
Thread Starter 
Every season, training staffs across the country put together schedules of training events that they believe will meet the needs of instructors/candidates.

Unfortunately, these schedules tend to be fairly generic, and often staffed by inexperienced, unqualified trainers. They spout off, not knowing the standards, the basics of various manuevers, or even the format of the particular exam.

But in their defense, maybe PSIA is partly to blame. With alarming regularity, the exams get changed, manuevers added or deleted, and even key elements get added before the examiners themselves get a handle on whats expected.

With each division creating its own brand of candidate hell, with the standard of our exam being only slightly higher than that of ice skating judges, our candidates have the right to be confused, worried, and down right pissed off!

Will a PSIA certification ever resume it's place in the international community as a respected credential? Or will our pin continue to serve as a great fishing lure?

The statements I have made here are intended to stir up thought, rather than denigrate those dedicated trainers and examiners who do hold the standard high.

What do you think?


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 10, 2002 06:31 PM: Message edited 1 time, by vail snopro ]</font>
post #6 of 66
VailSkiGal--Yours is a common perception, but I think the perception is not necessarily reality. While I would love to go back to a system that involved two or more examiners for each group, I am not convinced that there is usually a significant difference between examiners. I am not convinced that the added cost--which you would have to pay--would actually change the results significantly! We have worked hard--probably harder than most divisions--to create better consistency and uniformity in beliefs, understanding, and scoring among the examiner staff.

The real reason, of course--the only reason, that we went to a one-examiner format was to make the exam more affordable for our many full-time (and therefore woefully underpaid) instructors in the Rocky Mountain Division. We did it only after reaching a consensus that we could actually be consistent from examiner to examiner.

Nothing will ever be 100% consistent, no matter how many examiners watch you. But whenever two or more examiners watch the same performance, it is remarkable how very consistent we tend to be. This happens more than you may realize, too. New examiners must "apprentice" for at least a season, which requires them to shadow/audit several exams, with several different examiners. They throw scores on the performances independently of the "real" examiner. When I did it, I shadowed examiners that I knew saw eye-to-eye with me, and others who I suspected would have very different ideas and opinions than mine. In no case, through hundreds of individual scores at all levels of exams, did we throw scores more than 1 point apart! By far the majority of the scores were identical. And when we didn't agree exactly, not even once would our differences have altered the pass/fail result. Even I was surprised, and very pleased because it validated our system strongly. I had had the same doubts as you!

Another way that we try to create consistency is to have the exam manager--who is also an examiner--circulate around the various groups and observe a run or two with each examiner.

As you probably know, we also have an ongoing "verification" program in our division for our Education Staff. At Fall Training, we all ski through the same stations, observed by the same "verifier," to make sure that we all understand and perform the various exam tasks similarly. We will do lap after lap, until the performance is correct. If not, that examiner does not work exams!

So there are a few checks and balances. We are about as consistent as we could probably be, given the one-examiner format. Two examiners would be great, if everyone wanted to pay the additional cost. But the reality is that you would almost always be paying more money just to have two sets of eyes agree completely!

Our system does set itself up, naturally, for the criticism and concern that you have expressed. That is probably its biggest problem. We continue to address it, every year, balancing costs with effectiveness and the need for both the reality and the perception of consistency. I think every examiner would love to have the confirmation that a second examiner would give us, too. How much are you willing to pay for MY peace of mind?

Anyway, VSG, I wish you success at the exam tomorrow and Friday! Look me up--I'll be there in the morning. I'll be doing the second day of a Level 2 exam tomorrow, then a one day skiing-only Level 3 exam on Friday. I'll especially be interested in your perceptions of the process after it's over. Stay in touch!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 66
Hey Vail SnoPro--you know as well as I do that cert pins make lousy fishing lures!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 66

The last exam I took (oops, I'm dating myself) was when I took my associate more than a couple of years ago. I can't remember at that time if I had two or three examiners, and, at that time, I was surprised that the examiners weren't all that consistent.

I also realize that, more often than not, when those who DON'T pass, often tend to have a sour grapes story, but we have certainly not had a good pass rate this winter in our lockerroom. I had a handfull of friends that had an experience this year at a Level III exam, and, although they may not have been prepared at that time, the feedback within their group was consistently negative, unlike, for example, one who came back from Level IV's just last week (didn't pass) but was effusive on how positive an experience it was. Of course, it's all just lockerroom chat.

I have no doubt that each examiner uses his/her best judgement with each individual candidate. But, when you can't get certain consistencies out of trainers/PSIA examiners, etc (i.e., is there a pole plant on a pivot slip or not) by the middle of the season, you begin to wonder...
post #9 of 66
On another note, though, I am STILL looking forward to my experience the next two days, and hope to continue my education beyond in the next year so I can assist in the training here at my home mountain!

P.S. Love your definition of the Alipnus Lapinus Curvacous (I used to be one!)
post #10 of 66

Alpinus Lapinus Curvaceous (sp) [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #11 of 66
I remember that I used to get frustrated by any differences in the presentation and expectations of PSIA advanced educators and examiners.

In retrospect though I feel like if we are really on top of our game, we should be able to fullfill those expectations, even if they really are different from one clinic/exam to another. Because versatility and adaptability are a big part of the formula for excellence in coaching.
post #12 of 66
How about starting with a National Curriculum and seeing what that gets us?
post #13 of 66
Hey, where's all the action at Vail tomorrow?

I'll be up there - need to drop in on some gang members.

post #14 of 66
Thread Starter 
Meetings are at Lion Square Lodge, in Lionshead. Other than that, what action. This place is DEAD!
post #15 of 66
Todd -

Believe it or not, I couldn't agree with you more. If the candidate can, consistently, ski the level of expertise required by that particular level, he/she should pass with 100% of the instructors all of the time. I'm sure that majority of time this is what happens.

Tomorrow through Sunday in Vail are exams (Level I - III) and Spring Fling. Hopefully, that won't equate too much to a mud fling. Bottom is a little on the bare side!
post #16 of 66
vail snopro,

Where's the gang going to be training?
post #17 of 66
Interesting idea, reminds me of the "Educational Master Plan" of bygone days. Its layout was like a catalog of college courses that you took for different areas of development and accrued credits toward certification just like you would a college degree. Hmmm, what a concept?

How could we design 'curriculum' that would serve, augment or enhance the the present 'National Standards' role as the exam benchmark? To me curriculum implies learning which should imply improved instructor skill sets, which I like. However is is pretty much a given that people will train for what they 'percieve' the exam criteria to be, whether that makes them a better teacher or not. So then how do we structure the exam process, and communicate its expectations so as to drive the training/prep process, via curriculum, that actually produces better learning experiences for the end students?

How also do we create consistant evaluation processes that are more objective and less subjective. There are hundred of examiners across the nation that might give pretty much the same final conclusion on level-I, II, or III, but determine it via a hundred different ways and justify it by as many different explanations as well. They can't agree on a common description of what passes or on a common process to verify it, but they all sure think they know it when they see it.

In Central we now require the written to be passed before taking the on snow portion. Our Level-II tests teaching and skiing seperatly on single days, each with their own format and a single examiner. However our Level-III is still and the three composite ski/teach days, each with a different examiner. I'd like to see the Level-III evolve to seperate skiing and teaching evaluations tha could be prep'd for and taken seperatly. I think it ludicris to assume that everyone's Level-III teaching, knowledge, and skiing all come to fruition at the same time.

Historically we seem to try it, fix it, try something new, fix it, and then new folk take over and try the old stuff again that they weren't there for the first time around, etc, etc. No long range vision evident as yet.

Personally, I'm for evolving competance via ongoing education (curriculum) geared to practical usage and application in the work place, which I guess would be something different than our present, and historical, 'evolution/mutation of the hoop' methodology.
post #18 of 66
Thread Starter 
SCSA- What "gang" are you referring to? Examiners meeting at 8am, candidates at 8:30.

Roger- Good to hear from you! I knew this was too juicy a topic for you to keep hidden.

I too remember sitting several days in that room at Copper Mtn, and on another occasion, in Denver, with Brian and Johanna, Joan R, Doug, et al, as we struggled with the idea of a national criteria. The closest we came was the basic outline which remains as the current national standard.

You have made some very valid points- especially the point of the vicious circle we are in. By the time something moves forward, new players are ready to go backwards. Then after several frustrating attempts, they move on, and another group performs the same ritual.

Funny- but I haven't really heard too much from national recently re: long range planning. There is much talk about what we are supposed to do for our guest and future business, but nothing about how we are supposed to prepare our instructors to provide that service.

It will be interesting to see what developments come out of this last set of meetings with the divisional Pres. etc.

Maybe we'll see a glimpse of the future? :

By the way- here in RM, we have been using the format you propose for L3 for about 3 years now. If you'd like more info on it, and how it's worked , drop me a PM.
post #19 of 66
I am looking at a proposal drafted in February 2002 by John Mohan of Seattle for a college-type curriculum that looks promising. The Master Teacher Accreditation curriculum being developed by Kim Seevers will be offered to divisions to take national this fall. It seems that this is an idea whose time has finally come, and you know what they say about the power of an idea whose time has come...

It took Arthur Young 19 years to get the Bell helicopter to fly. We should not be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get our system to fly right.
post #20 of 66

I think they are actually having exams not training. They are not open to the public to join in. I guess since they are usually on an open slope anyone can observe. Don't be too disappointed however, They may be doing some pretty mondane tasks, Wedge turns, Wedge cristies, slow speed turns, etc. There is a lot of watching others ski, doing Movement accessment. Demos, teaching progressions and so forth.

You would have to join PSIA, be an instructor and have gone through the exam prep clinics in order to participate. I always like to watch the clinics and examiners ski however so I would find them fasinating. It might be interesting for you to watch but just don't expect them to invite you to join in.

Just letting you know.
post #21 of 66
Good debate. From a Level 2 with PSIA-E, I have always had the philosophy of "If you're good enough, you can do it."

Sure, the examiners have different "eyes". Why should they be any different from public school teachers and college professors? Students still take the SATs. GREs, MCATs.. all national tests. Do the students learn the same way? Do the students get exactly the same information? No. Standards are set, but then it is up to the teacher/student combination to meet them!

A postitive plug for Kim Seevers - I have passed my final exam for Master Teaching Certification. The courses were great! Yes, many of us are continuing and will take the Level 3 skiing portion of the test. For the skiers that don't have the ability to demo Level 3 ski skills, they now have additional knowledge to help their clients.(must be a Level 2 to take the final). The Masters replaces the teaching portion of the Level 3.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 03:14 AM: Message edited 1 time, by KeeTov ]</font>
post #22 of 66
scsa, we're just working on our pivot slips [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Good luck vsg!

See y'all there.
post #23 of 66
KeeTov- I'm a level II RM and am confused about the Master Teaching Certification. I realize it's new.

Is this something one does as a level I, II, or III? I guess I kind of assumed it was done post level III yet you said you had completed a potion of the exam or curriculum.

I'm intrigued. Can you explain more.
post #24 of 66
YOu guys are all losers.

Vail is reporting 6.5 new, which means,

So while you gang folks are studying how to do wedge turns better, HealPusher and I will be ripping up the pow-pow.

post #25 of 66
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SCSA:
vail snopro,

Where's the gang going to be training?

SCSA-It sounds as though you still are interested in "training" with PSIA instructors. Why don't you apply for a job at a ski school next season and you will get to train all you want? Don't get angry, I'm being serious and trying to welcome you with open arms. At Eldora, you would have had the freedom to teach ANY methodology that you want. PSIA curriculum or PMTS curriculum. I know Eldora doesn't work for you, however, there are lot's of resorts around here.

Otherwise you will always be an outsider looking in and it will merely serve to alienate you.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 05:58 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Rusty Guy ]</font>
post #26 of 66
Vist psia-e.org for the full info. You must be at least Level 1 to start, but Level 2 to finish. Take 20 days of different courses/topics, and take an exam for each one.

I beleive the initial idea was there are many instructors out there that want the knowledge, but can't ski at Level 3. This gives the clients and schools a cadre of knowledgable people that can teach the material.

PSIA-E has decided to accept this as the teaching portion of a Level 3 exam. If the "Master" can do the skiing portion, they get the full pin.

For me...for the last three years I have gotten injuried pre-season, limiting my skiing time. Completing my Master gives me a slight edge, and if I never get fully recovered, I know I have some neat teaching skills post Level 2.
post #27 of 66
Yes - over the last 14 years I haven't really mostly ripped hard in the freshies and steeps 5-7 days a week, while getting paid to do it.

No, it was all about working on my wedge turns. Thats why I've kept doing this, because I just love to work on those wedge turns.

Yes, keep believing that . . . and you are getting very sleepy, sleeeeppppyyyy . . .
post #28 of 66
I don't know about you guys, but I believe people are educated and animals are trained. I have found that the containment method is best for training, as it eliminates environmental distractions such as powder and blue skies.

Quit mollycoddling SCSA. He needs to show up on his own. Nobody had to cajole AJ or Debbie... Assets show up motivated. The "motivate-me" type Asses (sp?) sing the same old song with the same bad breath.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 07:57 AM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
post #29 of 66
Yep Nobo, this is true.

The context we have in this case here would place this desire to be in PSIA clinics as one motivated not by a genuine open-minded desire to learn.

But more likely motivated by a desire to gain ammunition for the sake of futhering an agenda and creating/maintaining conflict.

This might be incorrect, but we humans can only define, recognize things by their context. In in this case the historical context is clear.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 11:02 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #30 of 66
Thread Starter 
SCSA- Ya, I want to see you go rippin' in the pow-pow. Were you here yesterday? Do you know where the bare spots are? I'm sure it's your favorite condition- dust on crust. Coral reef under an inflated measurement of snow.

To late in the season to have that much ego... Summer is fun too- so don't do something stupid like keeping our patrollers busy.

But I do hope you have a great day skiing! Remember- the worst day of skiing is better than the best day of working! (Some of us are lucky enough to have that simultaneously!)

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