Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Board for Waste Management Facility Operators
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4/15/24  10:03 am
Commenter: Dan Ciesla

Open-Book vs Closed Book Evaluation

In September 2023, I successfully navigated the challenges of the closed-book Class 2 certification exam. My approach to studying was methodical, which I believe contributed significantly to my ability to pass what I found to be a very manageable exam. However, my personal experience aside, it's imperative for the board to critically evaluate the objectives they aim to achieve with this examination and the certification process at large.

The essence of closed-book testing lies in its ability to mandate a comprehensive mastery over a foundational body of knowledge. This is particularly crucial in the context of waste facility operations across the Commonwealth. While it's a given that operators will consult regulatory documents throughout their careers, the necessity for a preliminary knowledge benchmark cannot be overstated. It instills confidence among the Commonwealth and the general public that operators are not only familiar with but are also operating within the bounds of established laws and regulations.

Should there be a shift back to open-book testing, it's essential that the examination undergoes a significant overhaul to emphasize higher-order cognitive skills, such as situational analysis and evaluation. This would ensure that examinees are not merely searching for answers within their materials but are also engaging in critical thinking to devise solutions. Maintaining the current test format while transitioning to an open-book format would likely fail to capture the depth of a candidate's understanding and mastery of the material.

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