From the California BBS meeting: More exam work to do

California Board of Behavioral SciencesI’m at the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) meeting today in Orange County, with Robin Andersen from Prelicensed. The BBS has returned to two issues I’ve raised here previously: The alarmingly low pass rate on the California MFT Clinical Exam, and the issue of sites charging trainees to work there.

MFT Clinical Exam

The meeting materials include (starting on page 27 of the PDF) a seven-page shoulder-shrug about the low pass rate on the exam. Not only does the report fail to answer why the pass rate is so low and why it fell so far so fast, it failed to even ask those questions.

In today’s meeting, Board members and staff agreed to pursue the issue further in an effort to get a better understanding of both “Why” questions. There will likely be a future closed-session meeting with the state Office of Professional Examination Services (OPES) to discuss those areas of exam development and review that can’t be discussed in public. Executive Officer Kim Madsen committed to making as much information from that meeting public as possible.

I also pushed for the release of an updated, anonymized data set of examinees, like one the board published in 2008. That would help me and others perform some additional statistical analysis to try to get a better handle on what’s been causing the low pass rate and the drop in pass rate.

In the meantime, the pass rate has started to come back up (see page 31 here), albeit only a little so far.

Trainee fees

Several of the sites I identified a few months ago as charging fees to trainees sent representatives to today’s meeting to explain how they use that money. They agreed that, as an aspirational goal, they would prefer not to charge those fees. But they also suggested that eliminating the fees was not feasible at this point.

While each of the agencies inarguably does important work serving vulnerable populations, none offered an explanation for why this trend seems to be specific to Los Angeles. Other sites around the country seem to be able to find ways to adequately train their trainees without charging them for the privilege.

The BBS committed to additional data-gathering on this important issue. They’ll send out a survey to more thoroughly determine the scope of the problem, and come back to discuss possible policy actions next year.

The next BBS meeting is in February 2018 in Sacramento.