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RE: SE Licensing in Washington State, Exam Results

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"I took the Washington Structural III at its first offering (and was
one of the two who passed).  I found the exam to be tough but fair.  I
agree that the latest pass rate was disappointing; perhaps the
examinees were distracted,unprepared, or unqualified."

Good for you. To start out that way, though, makes one wonder about the validity of the comments originially made. The point was raised that unreasonably low passing scores help those who are already in high positions stay there and avoid competition from newcomers. So, you respond by pointing out your position and opining that the test is appropriate based on that fact that a number of session ago you and one other person passed, and next move on to find reasons to blame the current crop of test takers. 9% seems awfully low. Surely, a reasonable person might contemplate that it is at least remotely possible that the test may have been too hard this time around. Still, based on your position and your experience in a test session long ago you are quite ready to dismiss this possibility and blame the test takers. As you point out, the passing rate has varied over the years from 9% to 37.5%. It seems at least possible, given the rates you quote, that the difficulty of the test is not at all uniform from one session to the next. Whether you equate unform difficulty with fairness is, I suppose, a different matter, but the question seems valid. Given that the whole process of SE testing costs over $600 and takes a total of 2 1/2 days of a person's time, couldn't one imagine that a person who just failed might be justified in at least raising the question of why only 9% of people with adequate experience, education, and background could pass?

"At present (unfortunately) there is not a practice act in Washington; no one is REQUIRED to have a Washington SE."

Unfortunately, this is not true. There are priviledges granted to an SE that are not available to a PE. If you want to do PT in the City of Seattle, for example, the drawings must be stamped by an SE. A PE is not sufficient. This is to say nothing of employment opportunities, where of course an SE is often required for advancement, and is often tied directly to pay, both in the public and private sectors. Careers can be made or broken based on these results. To say that you have yours and therefore it is fair forever more is to play to the original poster's ideas.

"I suppose you feel that high standards for graduation are an
obvious inequity for undergraduates and that high standards for
admission to college are an obvious inequity for high school students."

This seems to be a very weak comparison. To take the SE test, you are already among a rather select group of individuals by virtue of education, experience, and testing. If only 9% of an already highly selective group of high school graduates were able to get into college, they yes, someone might question that. To say that only 9% of people who have passed the required hurdles to get to the SE III can pass it seems to beg the question of reasonableness. Perhaps it was an aberation, it may well have been, but I don't see the point in mocking the individual who asks the question. A fair question doesn't deserve derision, even if you believe that the premise is not correct. I don't mean to discredit your well though-out points, Mr. Valley, you may well be right, I just wonder why you are so quick to dismiss Mr. Smith's concerns when, as you point out, you haven't take the test recently.


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