Episode 8: The COVID-19 Pandemic: A March 2020 Update

In this episode, Drs. Jim Carr and Melissa Nosik discuss BACB resources and guidance available to certificants in the face of the COVID–19 pandemic, and provide an update on important testing activities.
Resources:
COVID–19 Updates from the BACB
OnVUE Online Proctored Examinations

For a transcribed version of this episode, please watch the episode on our YouTube channel with closed captions.

BACB Examinations at Pearson VUE

April 27, 2020 Update: On May 1, 2020, Pearson VUE will begin reopening testing centers in areas that permit operation. Testing centers will open at a reduced capacity in facilities that can be equipped with appropriate social distancing measures (including the required use of masks). Please visit the Pearson VUE website for further details and scheduling.

March 18, 2020 (Modified April 27, 2020)

On March 16, 2020, Pearson VUE made the difficult decision to close all Pearson VUE–owned testing centers in the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of 30 days in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Many other countries have closed their testing centers as well. For the latest information regarding Pearson VUE testing centers, please visit the Pearson VUE website.

Pearson VUE's decision was primarily based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now recommends that no more than 10 people congregate in the same physical space in an effort to help contain the COVID–19 pandemic. We understand the closure of Pearson VUE testing centers presents a hardship for our certificants and consumers of ABA services. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide guidance to all those unable to test in the weeks ahead.

Individuals who hold a current examination authorization: We will extend the expiration date of your examination authorization by the number of days Pearson VUE testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. If you receive an automated email from the BACB that includes the date of your authorization expiration (e.g., reminders, expiration notices), please be aware that date will be adjusted once we know when Pearson VUE testing centers will reopen. Should your examination authorization expire during this period, we will reinstate it based on the number of days testing centers are closed and you are unable to test. This applies to all BACB testing candidates regardless of location.

Individuals who have submitted or will soon submit a BACB certification application: We will continue to process applications. If your application is approved, please disregard the examination authorization expiration date you receive in your approval email from the BACB. We will adjust the date your examination authorization expires once we have more information regarding the availability of testing.

We continue to receive inquiries about potential modifications to our standard testing practices, including whether candidates may test at other venues or in a remote environment. Because the BACB contracts solely with Pearson VUE, testing at other venues is not permitted. It is also likely impossible given that many other testing vendors are closing in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Finally, due to our stringent examination security requirements and standards, we are unable to offer remote examination delivery at this time.

Again, we will continue to monitor this situation closely. While we have implemented remote operations to ensure the health and safety of all BACB employees, we remain operational and continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please use our online Contact Us form.

BACB Examinations at Pearson VUE

Effective March 16, all Pearson VUE testing centers in the U.S. and Canada are closed in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. The BACB recognizes the hardship this will cause our applicants and consumers of ABA services. We offer guidance for candidates currently authorized to test or those who have submitted — or will submit — a certification application.

COVID-19 Update from the BACB

March 18, 2020 Update: In response to the COVID–19 pandemic, Pearson Vue has closed all its testing centers in the U.S. and Canada. Please visit the Pearson Vue website for the latest updates and to reschedule your BACB examination for a later date. You can cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled examination without being charged a cancellation fee.


March 17, 2020

The COVID–19 pandemic has implications for every aspect of society. Given this unprecedented situation and the impact it will continue to have on our certificants, clients, families, and trainees, we are offering the following information for BACB certificants and trainees in a number of areas related to our requirements.

Experience, Fieldwork, and Supervision for Trainees, RBTs, and BCaBAs

Our certification requirements were developed to provide flexibility in how they are met across a variety of conditions. In special circumstances, however, we have a compassionate–exception appeals process in which reasonable deviations that still meet the intent of our requirements may be accepted. This process may include greater leniency around specific requirements that involve interactions with clients (e.g., number of trainee- or RBT–client observations, minimum number of experience hours in a month). It is particularly important that you keep detailed documentation in the event you are subject to a BACB–requirements audit. That documentation should include information about how the pandemic impacted your services, supervision, etc., and the steps you took to try to meet the requirements. Finally, we encourage every BACB certificant and trainee to seek guidance from their supervisors about how supervision and service delivery might be impacted in the weeks ahead.

Examinations

Pearson Vue has implemented additional safety procedures and is providing regular updates to ensure the safety of our candidates. Remember that all BACB examinations are available on demand and you can schedule your examination for a later date. Additionally, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled examination without being charged a cancellation fee.

Continuing Education

The number of recent conference cancellations and the use of social distancing measures might impact how some of you with upcoming recertification dates were planning to obtain continuing education. Although we can't recommend specific continuing education providers, please note that there are many options available online. In addition, the new CEU requirements implemented in January 2020 no longer restrict types of CE activities, so some of you might be able to earn CEUs from other sources.

Application Submissions

Because mail service and processing may be impacted by changes to delivery timelines, the more information you submit electronically, the better.

Finally, we have implemented measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees, including remote work for employees beginning on March 17. Although we have temporarily discontinued phone–based customer service during this period, we will continue to process applications and respond to emails. To reach a customer service representative, please visit the Contact Us page.

Continual BCBA and BCaBA Certification Exams Launch on Feb. 1

Following extensive testing to ensure that our systems are optimized, we're pleased to make the official announcement: As of Feb. 1, BCBA and BCaBA examinations will be offered on a continual basis. Applicants will not have to wait for testing windows to take their certification examinations once authorized. Additionally, BCBA and BCaBA applicants will get their results immediately at the testing center upon completing their examination. Visit our Examination Information page for more information. You can also learn more about these changes by reading the BACB blog or listening to the Inside the BACB podcast.

BCBA and BCaBA Exams: Immediate Results and Year-round Availability

Convenience and immediate results: We seek both in virtually every aspect of our daily lives — from our food and entertainment to our transportation. Now you can expect these same qualities in your BCBA and BCaBA certification exams.

Following extensive work to ensure that our systems are optimized, we will move to continual testing on Feb. 1, which means that those of you seeking BCBA and BCaBA certification will not have to wait for testing windows to take your exams. Once you apply for certification and your application is approved, you'll be able to schedule your certification exam as soon as you receive your "authorization to test" email (typically within 24 hours of your application being approved). This means that YOU pick a time, date, and location that works for YOU.

And, if that's not enough to get you excited, when you take your BCBA or BCaBA certification exam, you'll get the results BEFORE you leave the testing center. You read that correctly: When you walk out the door, you'll know whether you're certified or whether you have to retake the exam. If you pass the exam, your certification is effective immediately (woo hoo!) and you'll find your certification number in your BACB account within 24 hours. If you fail the exam, you'll be able to start planning your retake right away: The retake application will be available in your BACB account within 24 hours, and once your completed application is authorized, you can sit for the exam 30 days from the date of your last attempt. That gives you plenty of time to study and prepare.

Why Now?
Given our excitement about these changes, many of you may be asking, "Why didn't the BACB offer continual testing and immediate exam results before now?" Well, we did — but only for our RBT certification exam. With the dramatic growth of the profession in recent years — and the number of you applying for BCBA and BCaBA certification — requests for greater flexibility in scheduling those exams have increased exponentially. Similarly, our growth as an organization means that we now have the psychometric infrastructure to make these changes without impacting the quality of the BCBA and BCaBA exams.

Our ability to provide you with your score report before you leave the testing center is tied to how we now equate our exams — or in simpler terms, how we ensure our exams are fair and valid. Historically, we used a post–equating model to analyze exam data in order to ensure fairness and validity. It recently became possible for us to implement a pre-equating model, however, something that enables us to perform data analysis earlier in the testing process, which means immediate results for you.

Keep In Mind
When you can take the BCBA and BCaBA certification exams may have changed, but their look, feel, format, and rigor has not, nor has the overall testing experience or our stringent security standards.

Another thing that hasn't changed is how many attempts you have to pass the certification exam: You still have eight chances to take and pass the exam within a two–year period after you're authorized to take it. Like before, we urge you to prepare for each exam attempt you make. If you fail the exam, use your score report to identify the areas in which you need additional study time — or training or fieldwork — for your next attempt. The bottom line is, if you use all of your eight exam attempts before the end of your two-year authorization period, you'll have to wait for that period to end before you can reapply for that certification. And anyone authorized to take the BCBA or BCaBA exam on January 1, 2020 or later has a two–year authorization that will expire after the transition to our 5th edition standards on January 1, 2022. This means that if you don't pass your exam within your two-year authorization window, you'll have to reapply for certification under the new standards, which entail additional coursework and fieldwork requirements.

While this rarely happens, if you're authorized to take the BCBA certification exam and you use all eight exam attempts before the end of your two–year authorization period, you have the option of applying for BCaBA certification. Perhaps you're not quite ready to practice as a BCBA and need a bit more training and experience in behavior analysis. If you apply for and pass the BCaBA certification exam, you can start working in the field and preparing yourself to become a BCBA. Should you take this route, you will have to reapply for BCBA certification and meet the requirements applicable at the time you reapply.

One final thing to consider: Now that certification application deadlines and testing windows have gone out the . well, window, it will be harder to predict when busy application periods will be throughout the year. You may apply during a period when we happen to receive a high volume of applications, which means it will take us a little longer to review your application than it would if you applied during a low–volume period. To be safe, allow up to 45 days for your application to be processed. As always, you can visit our Customer Service page for the latest on application processing times.

Want More Information?
We hope you're as excited about the changes to our BCBA and BCaBA testing as we are. We're SO excited, in fact, that we dedicated an entire episode of the Inside the BACB podcast to this topic for your listening pleasure. Additionally, everything you need to know about these changes is available at bacb.com, the official source of information for everything BACB.

Happy testing!

All BACB blogs are intended for general information only. Readers should refer to bacb.com for the most up–to–date information regarding BACB policies, standards, and requirements as blog content does not replace or supersede this information. All BACB blogs are the property of the BACB and may not be commercially reproduced or edited in any medium.