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November 15, 2003

RE: Oral Examination

The "hot" topic at the most recent BBS meeting held in November was the fate
of the oral examination. The Office of Examination Resources presented
their findings or lack of findings on the clinical vignette simulations that
have been incorporated into the written examination. While they expressed
assurance that these new items are measuring similar knowledge, skills, and
abilities as identified in the occupational analysis, they have been unable
to demonstrate a strong correlation between how an applicant performs on the
written clinical vignettes and how that same applicant would perform on the
oral examination. A strong correlation was hypothesized to demonstrate that
these items would be measuring the same competencies as are measured by the
oral examination.

In spite of this failure to achieve a strong correlation, the BBS voted to
eliminate the oral examination for reasons that are largely financial. Due
to severe budget cuts caused by California's economic situation, and largely
due to an inability to hold the February examination due to not having
approval to override the budget to pay for proctors at that examination,
they were forced to cancel the February oral examination. This situation
would have caused those scheduled to take the February exam to wait until
July, when the Board enters a new fiscal year with a new budget. Obviously,
the postponement of the February exam, coupled with the fact that the Board
would have funding to administer only one exam per year, seemed to leave no
other option than to eliminate the oral exam that is so costly to
administer, and to replace it with some other measure of competency with
lower costs attached, e.g., not requiring proctors.

Thus, the oral examination will be replaced with a second written
examination that will be a clinical vignette simulation. Persons passing
the regular written examination will be able to schedule themselves for this
examination upon passage of the initial exam. Since the exam will be an
objective exam, persons taking the exam will immediately know the results.
It is anticipated that this clinical vignette examination will be available
in March or at least during the spring of 2004.

The Board will leave open, for future consideration, the re-implementation
of an oral examination should California's financial circumstances change or
should the proposed replacement for this examination not deliver the desired
outcomes, e.g., it is determined to not be a good indicator of the
examinees' competence.

While CAMFT is opposed to the elimination of an oral examination, unless
there is an established, equally as valid and reliable a measure of an
applicant's competence, we have no choice but to succumb to the outcome. To
do otherwise, given the economic realities of the time, would create too
great a hardship on applicants who would be forced to postpone taking the
examination and thus are forced to postpone getting licensed in California.

Mary Riemersma, MBA
Executive Director