Alpine Level II & III Exam Process Updates

A New Season and More National Alignment: Eastern Exam Process Evolves

By Chris Ericson, PSIA-E Examiner Alpine Education and Certification Committee Chairperson

As published in the Fall 2019 SnowPro newsletter

Over the past few years we have all been witness to the ever-changing Exam Process. I highlight process because in fact, the National Standards have changed little in the last decade, but the process for which we have evaluated those standards has seen its share of modifications. As our divisions throughout the country have worked over the last few years on aligning more in how they conduct their certification process, we in the Eastern Division find ourselves in a very good place.

There are some exciting things happening within PSIA-AASI for all the disciplines. Going back to the 2016 Leadership Summit, the goal has always been to work towards consistency. The years of work on strategic alignment are paying off with greater consistency between all of the divisions and last year, the implementation of a uniform scoring assessment was another step in that direction. This exercise in alignment has also been interesting because it has allowed all the divisions to look at each other’s processes and compare them to their own and see if a change in process is something that will ultimately benefit everyone.

As we looked internally, we found that our Skiing Assessment worked well. With our adoption of new language such as Assessment Activities (AA) and Assessment Criteria (AC) and having them written out in our Alpine Exam Guide, our membership got a clearer picture of what was expected. Additionally, if you took an exam last year, you may remember that we even posted the AA on the wall when you registered and told you which ones you would be performing before you even set foot on the snow. There were no surprises regarding what you were skiing or how it was being scored, because it was all written out and posted.

However, when we looked at our Teaching Assessment, we saw that we were much more reliant on a process. In the Creative Teaching module, exam candidates chose cards that described a fictious person’s profile, which they had to imagine, and then show that they could teach those skills using various teaching styles etc. This process became contrived, fake and had outlived its usefulness. The problem started to show its true colors when we found people who were honestly great instructors, being challenged by the process of the evaluation itself. We knew that we saw our best indication of a person’s ability to teach and coach when they were in the Movement Assessment module because they were working with people (real, living people not a fictious person drawn from a card) who were in the group.

New Process in the East

For 2019, the Level II and Level III Exam process is modified. Please note that these changes in the evaluation process should not change how you prepare for the exam.

Some General Highlights:
Skiing Evaluation

  • One Day Assessment
  • Candidate stays in the same group all day.
  • Scoring is done by two examiners who stay with the group all day. Examiners must agree on a score and only one score card will be written. The examiner pair will give a score between 1 (lowest) and 6 (highest) for each task in the performance area.
  • As was previously done, skiing is scored in three performance areas. Mountain Skiing, Agility/Versatility and Skiing at Skill Level. Each of these performance areas can still be banked.

Teaching Evaluation

  • One Day Assessment
  • Scoring is done by two examiners who stay with the group all day. Examiners must agree on a score and only one score card will be written. The examiner pair will give a score between 1 (lowest) and 6 (highest for each task in the performance area.
  • Scoring reflects the Learning Connection Model – Technical, Teaching and People Skills relative to the National Standard.
  • Candidates will coach each other to get better at an Assessment Activity and/or use the activity as a way to improve a fundamental of their own skiing on Level II or III terrain depending on the certification level.
  • During the day of the teaching exam, the candidate can expect to have two teaching sessions that will run up to 20 minutes in length.
  • In addition to their own teaching session(s), candidates will be expected to observe, give comments and actively participate in teaching discussions as requested by the Examiner.
  • *The Creative Teaching Module and the Movement Assessment Module no longer exist as separately scored performance areas.
  • *There is NO banking of the Teaching Evaluation.

Our goal with these changes is to make certification less about understanding the process that you must go through and more about showing you are at the standard for Skiing and Teaching at Level II or III. During the Skiing Assessment, you will be with your same group for the entire day. There will be plenty of time to show that you understand and can apply the Fundamental Mechanics where needed depending on the Assessment Activity. With the Teaching Assessment, you will find it to be more organic. Candidates will have an entire day with one group and have the opportunity to show that they can incorporate into their coaching the fundamentals of good Technical, Teaching and People Skills that are relevant to the National Standards.

I am looking forward to seeing you all on the hill this season; please stop and talk to me if you see me as I am always looking for feedback on our educational and certification events.