Release of ARE Version 3.0 Affecting Delivery of Multiple-Choice Division Score Reports

Washington, DC—The rumors are true. Because NCARB is completing one of its periodic updates on the standard of performance for the Architect Registration Examination, candidates who have taken ARE multiple-choice divisions since February 2, 2004, will receive their score reports by late April-early May. This delay is a direct result of NCARB’s efforts to convene and conduct a Cut Score Study, which will establish a passing threshold for each multiple-choice division of the recently released ARE Version 3.0. At this point, the Council is not holding scores; scores cannot be calculated until the data is analyzed and the Cut Score Study is completed.

The Cut Score Study is a necessary part of all licensure programs and is guided by industry protocols for testing and measurement when establishing new passing standards. To that end, NCARB must ensure that a valid random sampling of each multiple-choice division is collected and analyzed. The size of the sample comprises approximately six weeks of administrations. These samples also must represent the full spectrum of candidate ability.

NCARB sought to minimize candidate inconvenience and to strengthen the results by not announcing the Cut Score Study in advance. An advance announcement could have increased the amount of time needed to collect data primarily because the number of candidates testing could have decreased. Any decrease would negatively impact the sampling and skew the results. If candidates were to postpone testing, NCARB would not have had enough solutions to analyze, potentially affecting efforts to fairly and effectively establish the standard of performance.

With the exception of the Mechanical & Electrical Systems division, it has been seven years since NCARB organized a Cut Score Study. After more than a year’s worth of planning, the Council chose to link the study with the introduction of ARE Version 3.0. Approximately 90 practicing architects from the U.S. and Canada will be taking part in the study at the end of March. They are a diverse group of practitioners, representing all ages, regions, and practice levels, including those recently licensed. Their objective will be to accurately correlate passing performance and the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice architecture independently. Conducting the most effective cut score process and protecting the public health, safety, and welfare remain the focus of this initiative.

The Council’s Board of Directors will confirm the threshold at their mid-April meeting. Score reports will then be released to state boards during the last week of April. NCARB specifically chose this time of the year to conduct the study for two important reasons. First, historically speaking, the highest level of administrations takes place during February and March. Second, the study had to coincide with a meeting of the NCARB Board of Directors. Any delays in data collection would have created a domino effect. The Board will not meet again until June, thus delaying their review of the standard and the subsequent release of multiple-choice division score reports.

Although NCARB has attempted to organize a process that has the least negative effect on candidates, the Council realizes that this delay is frustrating. Regardless of when a Cut Score Study is actually conducted (now and in the future), candidates testing during that specific time frame will be impacted. NCARB recognizes candidates’ concern and evaluated several alternative schedules to most effectively complete the process.

In the event that a failing score is reported, the six-month waiting period between administrations is based on the day the division was taken—not the day the score was reported. The Cut Score Study only affects the ARE’s six multiple-choice divisions. There is no delay in the reporting of graphic divisions.

The Cut Score Study is intrinsically linked to the profession’s commitment to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. By engaging in a periodic assessment of the passing standard, NCARB verifies and maintains the integrity and validity of the ARE. This process is especially important when new exam content is released, as is the case with ARE Version 3.0.

For more information about the ARE, contact the Council’s Professional Development directorate at 202/783-6500 or visit the ARE section of NCARB's web site for online resources including the newly updated [ARE Guidelines Version 3.0].