The RVDA/RVIA Certification Testing Board changed the scoring procedure for two tests given nationwide July 17 so that 242 techs will be certified. That’s more than would have been certified had the two tests been graded separately. The total number came about because the board determined after testing that scores for a written test and a separate practical written test designed to determine a tech’s hands-on ability should be combined into one score.
Bruce Hopkins, vice president of standards and education for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said poor performance on the practical test led to the change.
“They took a look at the testing results and decided it would be best to combine the tests to create one score,” Hopkins said.
After modifying the scoring system about 60% of 403 techs who took the two tests received passing grades. A total of 439 people took one or both tests.
A score of 74% was required for basic certification, and a technician with five year’s experience who answered 85% of the questions correctly receives master certification. Eighty-two people will be master certified from the July 17 testing, depending on whether they meet the experience requirement.
“Through this process, one of the things we determined that we need to do is help the instructor to get to the performance objectives,” Hopkins said. `We’ve got one group instructing and another group testing. We want to bring those two groups together.”
Tests are administered by the joint industry certification board while instructional classes via satellite are delivered by the RV Service Training Council (RVSTC).
Hopkins said that despite the shortcomings of the written practical test, anecdotal reports from dealers are that the 60 hours of satellite classes are improving performance and productivity on the shop floor.
“The dealers are saying consistently that they have a higher customer satisfaction rate – that more things are getting done right the first time,” Hopkins said. “Perhaps we are not testing on what they actually are learning.”
Satellite training, which entered its fourth year nationwide in September, replaced a 960-hour curriculum developed by RVIA for the National RV Training Institutes at more than a dozen technical and community colleges throughout the country, most of which are no longer offering the courses.
Hopkins estimated that more than 2,000 technicians at some 250 locations took all or part of the classes that began in the fall of 2003.
Hopkins said part of the problem is that techs who don’t have sufficient floor training or nontechnical dealership employees are attempting to be certified.
There is no experience level required for basic certification, although Hopkins said one might need to be established.
“Somewhere along the line the RVIA Industry Education Committee will have to define what a technician is,” Hopkins said.
“The dealer principal has this concept that if a guy sits through 60 hours of training he should be certified. That was never the intent of the people who created the satellite training program. Someone needs to say who can and cannot be certified.”