Been meaning to return to the controversy over CAS exams after my post a couple of weeks ago. But stuff kept getting in the way (like work).
With the agreement of the Vice President – Admissions and the Chair of the Examination Committee, I have directed CAS staff to engage a professional education consulting firm to perform an independent review of our process.
This, she notes, is similar to an undertaking around a decade ago. Back then, independent consultants looked at the exam process and probably fainted like Aunt Pittypat.
In those days, there was a syllabus and not much else. You memorized its readings – sometimes down to the footnotes – and took the test. There were no rubrics. There was no idea how many points could be derived from any given paper. Without being plugged into the actuarial network – working for a big company, buying an ACTEX manual – you really couldn’t tell what the hell the reading was for, what was important, and how important it was.
I’d tell you more, but then I’d turn into an old crank and chase some kids off my lawn.
The recommendations of those turn-of-the-century experts, Pat writes:
. . . led to the implementation of the following: (1) development and publication of the learning objectives for each exam syllabus, (2) training of exam item writers, and (3) a content-based pass mark process.
The objective of this review will be to evaluate our current processes against best practices for adult professional education. Upon receipt of the consultant’s report, the Executive Council will consider the consultant’s observations and recommended improvements for implementation as soon as practical thereafter.
Mind you, this stuff isn’t instant pudding. It takes time – probably a couple years – before anything changes. The project has to be scoped, then let out to bid. Then the consultants analyze and report back. And then it enters the CAS maw, where, after much political mastication, change will occur.
By that time, odds are pretty good that most candidates in the current process will have moved on – either to fellowship or to non-actuarial careers.
Update: To be clear, I think the CAS, via Pat Teufel, is being frank – “I was surprised and disappointed with the results of the Fall 2011 examinations,” she writes – and I’ve always felt the CAS sincerely wants the exams to be tough, yes, but fair. And that fairness extends to each test, across tests in a sitting, and across sittings over time.