HERS Raters Petition RESNET’s Practical Simulation Exam

RESNET struggles to fix bugs with its new program as HERS candidates struggle to complete the exam before the deadline.

HERS raters have launched a petition protesting RESNET’s Practical Simulation Exam. The exam, which was initially introduced in 2014, is required of all HERS rater candidates and current raters in order to acquire or maintain their certification.

As of July 10, about two weeks after the petition was posted, it had received 76 signatures. The petition states that in addition to not being an effective way to test raters for competency, the test is riddled with technical issues.

“From the moment that you stand in front of the ‘house’ it diverges from best practice immediately; in real life, it is essential to inspect the house to determine whether it can be tested at all,” says the petition. “Is there a cover to the hatch to the attic? Are all the registers installed? Do we have power?”

The petition is addressed to Steve Baden, the executive director of RESNET. It says that at a minimum, the test should be taken off the table until it is more fully developed, and that ideally, the test would only be a requirement for new raters.

The Practical Simulation Exam was created as a way to ensure testing for new raters was standardized and consistent. According to Baden, wide variations in field testing and training prior to the new exam led to inconsistencies in how candidates were tested.

“For instance, if a single home was used by a trainer for field testing, that testing environment may not effectively test a rater on all of available home attributes,” says Baden. “In addition, localized testing could be influenced by wind and weather conditions. It was decided that to remain credible RESNET practical tests had to replicable.”

The simulation includes two distinct house types, and raters need a minimum score of 80 percent on each house. Existing HERS raters must take the exam by September 1, 2017 to maintain their certification. The original deadline of July 1 was pushed back due to technical difficulties. Beginning June 1, browsers would no longer support simulations on the platform that the previous test was based upon, which forced RESNET to use a new platform. RESNET intended for the new deadline to provide test takers additional time while allowing themselves to make improvements based on feedback received from the industry.

One of the petition’s signatures is from Brett Dillon, a RESNET board member who also proctors these exams. Although he initially supported the idea of a standardized exam when it was proposed to the board, he encountered numerous technical issues when he tried to take the exam as a HERS trainer. Dillon said he printed out a synopsis of the problems with the program and even took a video of his screen as he took the exam for proof of its mistakes.

“This impractical exam tarnishes the reputation of RESNET and every Training Provider that is forced to conduct the exam,” said Dillon in a comment on the petition. “It is completely unsuitable to test a student’s ability to verify the minimum rated features of the home in real life, and is full of bugs and errors. It is unacceptable. I only wish this petition was sent to the rest of my fellow RESNET Board members instead of the Executive Director, so it wouldn’t get buried.”

DIllon also said that the new portal for the exam has just as many, if not more, bugs than the previous platform. He said that when he’s proctoring the exam, the difficulty experienced by those trying to take the exam was stressful and led to wasted time and money.

“I felt like I should’ve been in the Valium business or the Xanax business because the students were so stressed out,” Dillon says.

Baden said that in response to the program’s glitches, RESNET board president Roy Honican has directed RESNET staff to research the issues and that RESNET staff and a contractor have been working to come up with solutions.

“RESNET has identified problems and RESNET staff and its contractors are working to resolve them,”  Baden says. “If need be, RESNET is prepared to reimburse any test fee if all issues cannot be resolved.”

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Erin Schroeder is a freelance writer and editor based in St. Charles, Mo.