Friday, December 19, 2014

Remote Proctoring

ESA recently debuted a new service for those who are seeking their ACE or BCE. No longer do you need to schedule an exam date with a proctor and perhaps drive far distances to meet your proctor in his or her office.

How about you take the exams at home. By yourself. In your pajamas?

Well ... that last part is up to you. Recently ESA partnered with a Canadian firm called Loyalist to offer remote exam proctoring. With remote proctoring the exam is still proctored, but it is no longer done in person.

To fully appreciate the differences, let's start by talking about traditional proctoring (there have been many posts about proctors on this blog, including herehere, and here). Since the BCE program started in the 1970s, exams have been proctored. Initially they were done on paper and then the job morphed a bit when internet testing became a reality, but overall the relationship between the proctor and the applicant has remained about the same:
  • Applicant finds someone to proctor their exam
  • Applicant and proctor schedule a time to take the exam
  • Applicant communicates that information to ESA. We schedule the exams and send the login instructions to the proctor about a week out from the test.
  • Applicant (usually) travels to proctor's office
  • Applicant takes the exam while the proctor sits in the room and supervises
I've had applicants tell me that they have flown or driven hundreds of miles to get to a proctor. This is still an option, and for those who want to test with an in-person proctor, they still can. However, some people prefer a different model.

Enter remote proctoring...

In a remote proctored setting the applicant takes their exam(s) online and a proctor watches them through the computer's web camera. The proctor watches your key strokes, your facial movement, and your surroundings while also listening in for any audible anomalies. If any illicit activities occur, the proctor is authorized to terminate the exam and notify ESA HQ. At the conclusion of the exam your computer is left exactly as it was prior with no new hardware or software installed.  It's not free, of course, but the fees are collected by and paid directly to the proctor, not ESA. The current fee is about $50. The new process looks something like this:
  • Applicant tells ESA that they want to use a remote proctor and test during a certain time period (generally we ask for a specific date and then allow a little flexibility around that date)
  • ESA advises Loyalist that a new exam is being scheduled
  • Loyalist sends instructions to the applicant for logging into their system and paying the fees
  • On the day of the exam, applicant logs into their computer from virtually any location and is directed by the proctor on how to proceed.
  • At the start of the exam period, the proctor will check the ID of the applicant, review the surrounding area for unauthorized materials or people, and inform the applicant of the testing rules. 
  • At the conclusion of the exam the proctor will watch as the applicant tears up any scrap paper that was used (applicants are permitted one blank sheet of paper and a pencil/pen during the exam, but it must be destroyed or remitted to the proctor at the end of the exam).
Traditional proctoring is still available for those who prefer it, but if you (a) prefer to test at home rather than traveling to a proctor, (b) don't like having a proctor in the room with you while you test, and/or (c) don't live near a proctor, then remote proctoring may be a good option for you.

If you want to use a remote proctor for your next ACE or BCE exam, please contact or and ask how you can get started.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New ACE and BCE list December 2014

Please join ESA in congratulating the latest individuals to earn their ACE or BCE (earned prior to December 15, 2014):

  • Mrs. Noel E. MacNeil, BCE-Intern, (not provided), Interlochen, MI  USA.  Certified on 12/1/2014
  • Mrs. Jennifer O'Dell Brumfield, BCE, (Western Pest Services), Cochranville, PA  USA.  Certified on 11/13/2014
  • Mr. Trenton Scott Frazer, BCE, (Alterra, Inc.), Sandy, UT  USA.  Certified on 11/21/2014. 
  • Mr. Gary Hugh Cochrane, BCE, (Amalgamated Pest Control Pty Ltd), Brisbane,   Australia.  Certified on 11/26/2014
  • Mr. Darryl J Franke, ACE, (SOS Pest Control), Kansas City, MO  USA.  Certified on 11/13/2014
  • Mr. Richard M Gruber, Jr, ACE, (Orkin Pest Control), Columbus, OH  USA.  Certified on 11/14/201 
  • Mr. Robert G. Alarco, ACE, (Orkin LLC), New Hyde Park, NY  USA.  Certified on 11/14/2014
  • Mr. John A. Hernandez, ACE, (Western Pest Services), Toms River, NJ  USA.  Certified on 11/14/2014
  • Mr. Damian Marcello, ACE, (Orkin Pest Control), Latham, NY  USA.  Certified on 11/14/2014
  • Mr. Robert Gaul, ACE, (Craig Thomas Pest Control ), Hyde Park, NY  USA.  Certified on 11/14/2014
  • Mr. James Robert Haeger, ACE, (Pugliese Pest Solutions / Rollins Inc.), Utica, NY  USA.  Certified on 11/14/2014
  • Mr. Christopher S Schneider, ACE, (Univar), Napa, CA  USA.  Certified on 11/24/2014. 
  • Mr. Michael P. Reid, ACE, (Cardiff Pest Control), Santa Cruz, CA  USA.  Certified on 12/5/2014
  • Mr. John Peter Pirrone, ACE, (Keystone Pest Control, Inc.), Hayward, CA  USA.  Certified on 12/5/2014

Learning more about QualityPro

I've been spending a little time recently learning about Quality Pro, partially in preparation for a Symposia that ESA is supporting in early 2015 at the 8th International IPM Symposium in Salt Lake City, UT. Our session is called Building International Professionalism: Credentialing Options for the People and Places that Practice IPM in the Built Environment, and it will consist of an overview of the various types of credentials that a PMP can earn for his/her company, service, or self.

The Quality Pro (QP) accreditation program seems to be an excellent companion to the ACE and BCE certification programs. Whereas QP focuses on the professionalism of the pest management firm, the focus of ACE/BCE is on the individual. Both programs allow pest management people and firms to voluntarily choose to adhere to a higher level of credentialing and training than is required by the states.

Where the two programs overlap is in requirements that the QP program puts on each individual who works for the company. Since not all states require individual testing for pesticide applicators, QP requires all company employees (yes, even the sales staff) in those states to pass minimum training exams (a list of those states is here).  For ACE and BCE, individual testing is an integral part of the credential. The exams are arguably significantly more difficult for ACE and BCE, based on length if nothing else.

One little-known fact about QP: Among the other benefits, QP has a subsidy toward the ACE exam.

Both programs seek the same goal, that of raising the standard of professionalism of the industry. They just approach it from opposite sides of the employment spectrum.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

November 2014 Certification Board meeting

The final meeting of the 2014 ESA Certification Board was held during the ESA Annual Meeting in Portland, OR on November 16th. This concludes the Directorship for Pat Copps and marks the beginning of Laura Higgins' time at the helm of the Cert Board. Some of the highlights from the November meeting are:

  • Continued growth in both the ACE and BCE programs. Though final numbers won't be known for several more weeks, both ACE and BCE are poised for growth. If this holds to be true, BCE would be posting 2 years of growth in a row, which is unprecedented in recent years.
  • The ACE Support Committee has been watching the ACE exam scores since the new test debuted in early 2014. Overall the average score has decreased by about 2-3 percentage points. The ASC feels that an ACE applicant should be putting in a minimum of 40 hours of dedicated self-study prior to taking the exam
  • The board recommended that Jim Fredericks (NPMA) and Shripat Kamble (Univ of Nebraska) be appointed to fill the two Ad Hoc positions on the Certification Board. Though the ESA Certification Corporation Governing Board makes the official appointments, they often rely heavily on the advice of the Cert Board (as was the case here, when the ESACC GB approved a motion to have Fredericks and Kamble fill the slots).
  • Discussion about the new mission statement of the Certification programs that was developed during 2014.

ESA Certification Corporation Mission Statement:  To establish and maintain standards of professionalism for all who work with or study insects and related life forms.

  • There was some considerable discussion about the fact that the annual Business Meeting (which is historically held during the ESA Annual Meeting) is always poorly attended and by its nature excludes those who cannot come to the meeting. Several different options were discussed, but the following motion carried unanimously: "Move that the 2015 Certification Business meeting be held as a webinar immediately subsequent to the ESA Annual Meeting." The Business Meeting webinar is now tentatively scheduled for 11/23/2015.
  • The CEU Committee Chair agreed to review the BCE Professional Maintenance and Certification Report (PM&C) for any needed changes or updates to eligible CEUs.
  • The board agreed that all BCE exams should be reviewed approximately every 5 years. The Medical/Veterinary specialty is already under review and the General Core exam will be reviewed starting in 2015.
Additionally the Board agreed to the following meeting schedule for 2015:  February 17, May 12, August 18, and the annual meeting on November 15 (the first three are conference calls, the last is held in conjunction with the ESA Annual Meeting). Anyone who has business to bring before the Certification Board should be mindful of those dates.