Beginning in January, those seeking to take the examination for licensure as psychologists in Arizona, Nevada, Guam and the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador will be required to take two tests – at an additional cost of $450.
Since 1965, all state and provincial licensing boards have required applicants to pass a written examination measuring knowledge of practice areas – the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
That test is now EPPP (Part 1 – Knowledge) to distinguish it from a second test, EPPP (Part 2 – Skills) designed to measure an applicant’s ability to apply that knowledge in practice. The new test will also be mandatory Feb. 15 in Missouri, March 1 in Manitoba and Nov. 1 in Georgia.
The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) provides the exams. Adoption of the EPPP-2 has been controversial since it was first proposed that it would be mandatory for all jurisdictions beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
Strong objections and criticism led ASPPB to back off and designate adoption of the EPPP-2 as “voluntary.”
In rolling out the new test for January, ASPPB’s website noted: “At this time, it is optional for licensing boards (jurisdictions) to sign on to require the EPPP (Part 2 – Skills). Between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, jurisdictions who sign on will be considered ‘early adopters.’ ”
That seemed to indicate EPPP-2 will become mandatory in all jurisdictions Jan. 1, 2022.
But Mariann Burnetti-Atwell, Psy.D., ASPPB’s CEO, told The National Psychologist, “That decision has not been made.”
The announcement of the test rollout has re-engendered criticisms questioning the scientific validity of the skills test and accusing ASPPB of adopting it primarily as a moneymaker.
Burnetti-Atwell said a fact sheet supporting the test’s validity has been sent to member licensing boards.
Initially, ASPPB announced the second test would be priced at $600, the same as the original EPPP, but later reduced that to $450 in response to those complaints.
In actuality, the tests will cost candidates more when local fees and other charges are added. Those costs for the original EPPP are $87.50. The same amount is likely to be added to registering for the second test.
During consideration of adding Part 2, the association made a concession to critics on when candidates are eligible to take the exam.
Formerly, candidates could not apply to take the test until all other requirements for licensure were completed. That was changed to permit applying once academic coursework is completed, excluding practicum, research or internship credits.
In response to those questioning why the association saw a need for adding the skills section to testing,
Burnetti-Atwell said, “Skills are not assessed in a consistent manner across jurisdictions and many of the methods used (oral exams, letters of recommendation) have reliability concerns.”
She said by adding the skills test early adopters will have a reliable, valid and defensible assessment of competency of their candidates.
“Some jurisdictions have expressed interest in replacing a state skills exam or oral exams for that reason,” she said.
She said the change to allow pre-degree candidates to take the Part 1 exam follows the medical model, which most jurisdictions believe to be the most appropriate time.
She said ASPPB began developing the skills test “because this was a known need in licensure assessment.”
As for being a moneymaker, Burnetti-Atwell said, “The costs of developing and maintaining an examination program is considerable and subsequently there are costs that must be covered.”
She said it will take years for ASPPB to recoup that cost.
“Ultimately, the decision to update the EPPP was that it helped jurisdictions to better assess their candidates, and that ultimately is in the best interests of ensuring public protection.”
That reasoning is in line with the objective when the EPPP was first adopted – creating universal standards across the jurisdictions to aid mobility as psychologists change jurisdictions or temporarily practice in a jurisdiction where they are not licensed.
She said just as some jurisdictions will adopt the EPPP-2 early while others may not, it will be up to individual licensing boards to decide whether to allow taking the EPPP-1 pre-degree.