Author: Andy Goldstein, NASBA Electronic Media Specialist and Webmaster
Regarded as a cornerstone of support within its organization, NASBA appoints as many as 30 committees and task forces each year. Through the work of these committees, NASBA volunteers and staff address current and emerging issues affecting Boards of Accountancy across the 55 jurisdictions. Topics range from ethics, education and global regulation in accounting principles to the development of model rules for the member boards’ consideration.
Throughout the year, we will feature each of our committees to highlight their role in carrying out NASBA’s mission, the duties and functions they perform and focus on their initiatives for 2013.
We continue our series on NASBA’s committees with a look at the CPA Examination Review Board (ERB).
NASBA had conducted an in-depth study of the CPA Exam in 1961, but by the mid-1970s, the accounting environment had changed and another review was thought necessary.
NASBA first attempted to fill this niche by having a CPA Examination Review Team conduct such a study in 1976, but this study was only an extension of work that had been performed since probably the early 1950s by NASBA’s Committee on the CPA Examination. That committee sent out questionnaires to state board members following each exam asking whether the Exam was fair and equitable.
Typically, about 20 Boards would respond to the questionnaire, but a survey was insufficient. A more comprehensive assessment was desired and, starting with the November 1978 CPA Exam, the ERB began a stringent annual evaluation on behalf of member boards regarding the delivery of the Exam and the administration of the Exam process.
The ERB benefits from the involvement of partner-level CPAs from public accounting firms and other industry experts, many of whom have a long history with NASBA. After a re-organization in 2010, the ERB now consists of five volunteer members who serve rolling three year terms. These members utilize a full-time staff, and consultants as necessary, to accomplish audit procedures planned and overseen by the ERB.
The ERB’s charge is to review, evaluate and report on the appropriateness of the policies and procedures utilized in the preparation, grading and administration of the Uniform CPA Examination and other examinations in general use by the Boards of Accountancy for the licensing of Certified Public Accountants. In carrying out its responsibilities, the ERB shall examine such records and make such observations, inspections and inquiries, as it deems necessary. The ERB shall report annually to the Boards of Accountancy.
The ERB is different in that its charge is stipulated in NASBA’s bylaws and the CBT Agreement between NASBA, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Prometric.
To carry out their charge, the ERB evaluates the psychometric quality and content of the CPA Exam; reviews its preparation, scoring and administration; and evaluates the security and integrity of the electronic architecture and data communications that surround a computer-based test. Because the ERB is a single agency acting on behalf of all Boards of Accountancy, it can perform these reviews more effectively.
The “Twelve Steps for Effective Test Development” as described in the Handbook of Test Development (Downing, Haladyna, 2006) provide the framework for the ERB’s review and evaluations. The “Twelve Steps for Effective Test Development” are based on the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and represents the consensus opinion concerning all major policies, practices and issues in assessment.
The ERB also conducts unannounced site visits at Prometric testing centers. ERB Director Onita Porter and ERB Audit Manager Shawn Jackson have been conducting these visits with the purpose of observing activities in the different centers to make sure they are following Prometric policies and procedures.
Each year at the NASBA Regional Meetings, the ERB issues a report highlighting the work performed by the ERB for a particular calendar year. The report expresses assurance to Boards of Accountancy that they can rely on the CPA Examinations for licensing purposes. These reports are available on the NASBA.org ERB page.
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