Rows of seats in a Lecture Hall


Faculty Newsletter: Second Quarter 2020

In this issue:

    COVID-19 and the Impact on the Physical Therapy Community

    On Friday, May 15, FSBPT held a webinar for members and school faculty to address how COVID-19 has affected the physical therapy community and, specifically, the NPTE. FSBPT held a similar webinar for students on May 18.

    FSBPT President Nancy Kirsch provided the introduction by emphasizing that we cannot lose sight of the importance of our mission: public protection. Additionally, FSBPT is an evidence-based, fact-driven organization, and policy decisions reflect this.

    The pandemic is affecting every sector of our global community, including testing. FSBPT had unprecedented disruptions for the April exams. There were 5,922 displaced candidates. For context, over the last eight years, in total, we have had forty-three candidates displaced in April.

    We recognize that the candidate experience in May was not a good one. We understand how painful this is for new graduates. We assume responsibility for this poor transition to the new circumstances and we are and will continue to do better.

    To respond to this evolving situation, we have upped our communications via multiple channels: emails, our website, social media, and webinars. We are committed to ensuring our stakeholders are in the loop. We also frequently talk with Prometric; similar health care testing organizations; international counterparts; and our partners, APTA, CAPTE, ACAPT, PTA SIG, ELP.

    We understand there have been many pain points for candidates and stakeholders. Prometric displaced more than 450,000 candidates over two months. As they juggled the moving parts of this pandemic, they needed to consider all of their partners—not just FSBPT—along with safety issues and jurisdictional laws. They decided to emphasize essential services programs in May—however, initially, there was some back and forth and confusing messaging on that. Additionally, even as they decided to re-open in general in May, there were multiple reasons a center or an appointment might be cancelled, which caused confusion for our candidates.

    For example, there was confusion over what centers were opened or closed as the list on the website was not always up to date. Even open centers could not open in full capacity as they needed to recognize social distancing standards and jurisdictional limits on gatherings. Therefore, Prometric cancelled many appointments. After initial cancellations, they conducted an audit, which resulted in late cancellations. Additionally, some cancellation notices from Prometric had erroneous or outdated information that misinformed our candidates.

    Because of this, some candidates had their appointment cancelled within twenty-four hours or had their exam cancelled numerous times. While, fortunately, this only happened to a small number of students, we understand how traumatic those experiences were for the affected candidates.

    Prometric has been a partner for more than twenty years. Surveys show that candidate satisfaction for Prometric is usually very high. However, this is an unusual and challenging time. They understand this has been problematic for us and our candidates and they are committed to improving.

    And, fortunately, the situation did improve.

    Spaces opened up and 99.99% of April exam candidates were able to complete the test in May. Prometric has improved their “Contact Us” page and their center status page, which they update daily. Prometric has also conducted substantial remediation on their technical issues. Future cancellations will give candidates at least forty-eight hours’ notice. Prometric has also instituted a reimbursement policy for candidates who received a late cancellation and incurred travel expenses.

    FSBPT is committed to providing information as quickly and clearly as we can. Additionally, we have new plans to review Prometric’s communications to ensure our candidates do not receive confusing information.

    Unfortunately, we may still have capacity challenges in July: test centers will still be working at lower capacity and some centers still may not be able to open. However, our blocked seats and additional windows should help ensure candidates can get a spot. For October, we also have blocked seats on fixed dates. We are waiting to gather more information and assess the status of the pandemic before making other provisions, such as windows, for October.

    We know educators and students have many questions. We encourage you to reference our FAQs for candidates and FAQs for schools, which we update regularly. You can also view the webinar presentation and answers to questions we weren't able to address during the webinar. Please reach out to use at examregistration@fsbpt.org if you have specific questions.

    We thank you for your patience and understanding as we all navigate this new territory.

    New Individual PEAT Forms Available

    We have added a second set of forms to PEAT available for individual purchase!
    PEAT is a timed, computer-based, multiple-choice practice exam for NPTE candidates. It is one of the best ways to prepare for the NPTE. PEAT helps candidates identify their strengths and weaknesses prior to taking the actual exam. Questions have been developed by experienced clinicians and item writers in the same format as the NPTE.

    FSBPT offers two PEAT products. One is the Academic PEAT, available to schools. The other is Individual PEAT, available directly to candidates.

    Candidates who have taken PEAT and want additional practice can purchase the additional set of forms. The system will automatically determine which PEAT forms they have not yet seen. Individuals can purchase these forms on the FSBPT website.

    Graduation Date Changes

    Because of the pandemic, some schools have had to change their graduation dates.

    Unless your graduation date will be delayed more than ninety days, there should be no impact on when you can validate the graduation for your cohort. FSBPT’s system allows schools to validate graduation up to 150 days before graduation. In addition, the NPTE Policies allow students to sit for the NPTE up to ninety days before graduation. Please note, even if your state allows students to sit for the test more than ninety days before graduation, the FSBPT policy is still ninety days before graduation.

    For the purposes of calculating the ninety and 150 days, FSBPT uses the following standard: the student has completed the program (both didactic and clinical) and is eligible for graduation, versus the degree conferral date, which can be significantly after the student actually completes all program requirements.

    If you have any specific questions about your cohort, please email schools@fsbpt.org. If you would like to extend your academic PEAT, please contact peat@fsbpt.org.

    NPTE Textbook Survey

    This year, FSBPT is conducting the NPTE Textbook Survey to identify textbooks commonly in use in PT and PTA programs. In part, this information is used to acquire references for the library at FSBPT and electronic resources for volunteers working remotely. We will publish the results of the survey when it is complete so schools can use it as a resource. Please help us to collect and update this information.

    Program directors and school contacts should receive an invitation to complete the survey within the next few days. Please encourage your schools to participate. We hope to receive all responses by October 1, 2020.

    New School Login Process

    As you know, in November of 2019, we made enhancements to the FSBPT School Interface.

    What do Program Directors need to do?

    Set up a Password for the New Account FSBPT has Created for You

    1. On the log in page, click on “Forgot/Reset your Password.”
    2. Enter your email address and click the “Send Email” button. Note, your email address must match the one we have in the system for this step to work. 
    3. You will receive an email with a link to set/reset your password.


    You can also view a brief screencast for an overview of logging into the system and managing authorized school users. 

    Add Additional Authorized Users
    Up to three additional authorized users can be added by clicking on the cogwheel next to your school name in the top blue menu bar. Authorized users will have access to all areas of the school interface and can be designated to receive system generated emails for cohort creation, validation alerts, and validation reminders. When a new authorized user is added, they will receive an email with a link to set up their password.
    Additional Information

    Updates to Program Directors
    If a program director needs to be added or updated, you must contact FSBPT at schools@fsbpt.org for assistance.

    Individuals Associated to More than One School Code
    Because some program directors and other staff are associated with more than one school code, when they log in using their email address, they will be prompted to select which school code they want to access. To access their other school code, they must log out, log back in, and select the other school.

    Why Did FSBPT Make this Change?

    The change has two primary benefits:

    1. Increased security by eliminating the need to share a single username and password
    2. Improved ability to track which user within a school completed an action (e.g., who validated graduation)

    If you have any questions about these enhancements, please email schools@fsbpt.org

    This Quarter's Question: Why Isn’t the NPTE Offered through Remote Proctoring?

    In response to the closure of many secure testing centers, some examination programs have made the transition to “remote-proctored” administration. In brief, remote proctoring allows examination candidates to take a test outside of a test center, in an environment such as their home, office, or at school. In general, exam proctors use the examinee’s webcam, speakers, and microphone to verify the candidate’s identity, communicate the administration procedures with the candidate, and ensure (to the extent possible) that the candidate is not accessing unauthorized materials. Typically, remote proctors monitor more than one testing session concurrently.

    Cheating and the NPTE
    The NPTE is a high-stakes exam: candidates who pass have completed one critical step in obtaining a credential to practice physical therapy and have demonstrated the requisite knowledge and skills to safely practice physical therapy. Although only a small number of NPTE candidates attempt to cheat on the examination, the consequences of cheating are enormous from a cost and public protection perspective.

    Enhancing test security often comes with a tradeoff in terms of examinee convenience. The NPTE is no exception. In 2009, the NPTE experienced a substantial exam security incident that prompted a group of physical therapy community stakeholders at the 2011 NPTE Summit to recommend the adoption of fixed date testing and more stringent eligibility policies. Stakeholders represented at the NPTE Summit included members of state physical therapy boards, APTA, CAPTE, and physical therapy educators.

    Although fixed date testing and other security measures, such as drastically reducing the re-use of items across test forms, have decreased the incidence of apparent cheating dramatically, FSBPT and Prometric still see attempts to cheat on the NPTE. In recent years, for example, candidates have attempted to sneak materials in or out of a Prometric test center, access unauthorized items while on breaks, or post recalled content to the internet.

    Given this experience, FSBPT is unable to state with confidence that scores from a remote-proctored administration would be as trustworthy as scores from an in-person administration of the NPTE. Further, allowing NPTE content to be available in an uncontrolled environment increases the risk of item harvesting dramatically. There is no way to ensure each candidate’s testing environment is secure.

    Legal and Fairness to All Candidates
    We must also consider fairness and legal issues. At this time, we do not administer the NPTE outside of the United States and Canada. If we allow candidates outside the United States to access the exam through remote proctoring, we would likely not have the protections that US and Canadian copyright law affords. The NPTE also provides a number of testing accommodations to candidates who require them. We would need to ensure that any system we used was capable of administering the NPTE with standard accommodations or that an alternate plan is in place.

    Fairness concerns are also relevant when we consider whether all candidates will be equally able to access the NPTE if it is remote-proctored. Candidates must be able to access a minimal level of technology—a stable and secure internet connection, a webcam or mobile device that meets acceptable video standards, and a place to take the exam that is relatively free of distractions. And FSBPT would need policies in place that would address instances where we approved an administration, but it ultimately did not meet the standards for a secure administration: what happens if the testing environment is interrupted by a family member, friend, or co-worker? What happens if the candidate’s internet connection goes down or they lose a video connection?

    Practical Challenges to Remote Proctoring
    From a practical perspective, remote proctoring is unlikely to be a realistic solution to candidate displacements in the near term. Transitioning the NPTE to a remote delivery platform would require gathering input from stakeholders, contracting with a delivery provider, and ironing out a host of technical details such as ensuring the representation of graphic items is accurate, the timing is comparable, and the delivery platform works well on many devices. We would also need to work out administration scripts for things like identification verification and protocols for responding to examination security violations. Even working with our peers and delivery partners that would allow us to make use of existing scripts, protocols, and systems, these issues would take a great deal of time to work out to the extent suitable for a high-stakes test.

    Because remote proctoring is not a “flip the switch” solution, resource allocation is another practical consideration. Right now, FSBPT is devoting a great deal of resources to working with Prometric to get as many candidates scheduled in existing testing centers as possible. In our judgment, taking resources away from that effort, both from FSBPT’s side as well as Prometric’s side, is unlikely to yield positive results.

    What Students Need to Know: Testing Before Graduation

    One of the most frequent questions we get at FSBPT is from candidates wondering whether they are eligible to take the NPTE prior to graduation. All candidates are eligible to take the NPTE beginning ninety days prior to their graduation date. However, their school and in some cases their jurisdiction must approve their eligibility to take the NPTE prior to graduation. 

    Schools must go on FSBPT’s website and “validate” that the student is expected to graduate. Schools can do that up to approximately 150 days/months before graduation. Not all schools will validate graduation early. Some jurisdictions defer eligibility determination to FSBPT, in which case, otherwise eligible candidates will be able to register for the NPTE as soon as they are within ninety days of graduation. 

    Other jurisdictions might require additional steps prior to registering for the NPTE. FSBPT’s Licensure Reference Guide has helpful information on initial licensure requirements. Candidates who plan to work in more than one jurisdiction might want to consider each states’ requirements when registering for the NPTE. 

    If this all sounds confusing, we understand. FSBPT has created Journey Maps to illustrate the licensure process depending on the school you attended and the jurisdiction in which you intend to practice.

    Another question we get is from faculty members wondering whether it is a good idea for candidates to test before graduation. With respect to passing the NPTE, FSBPT’s research shows that pass rates are comparable among candidates who took the NPTE prior to graduation and within 180 days after graduation. From this perspective, we have no evidence that school or residency demands interfere with the ability to study for the NPTE. However, we cannot determine whether preparing for the NPTE interferes with other demands, such as completing classwork and fulfilling clinical experience requirements. That is why we leave the decision to validate graduation in the hands of each school to make that determination on their own, sometimes on a student-by-student basis.

    Get Involved: Learn, Grow, Write—Be an NPTE Item Writer!

    Item writing for the NPTE is a great way to gain expertise in crafting multiple-choice questions, share your knowledge of the profession, work with and learn from colleagues, and have fun! FSBPT is currently holding Basic Item Writing Workshops virtually through WebEx due to COVID-19. Participants produce ten items during the workshop followed by an additional thirty items in the months following the workshop. The remaining 2020 Basic Item Writing Workshop will be held:

    August 14–16, 2020

    FSBPT also offers Regional Item Writing Workshops in various locations across the country. Participants in the Regional Item Writing Workshops produce twenty items during their two-month term. Because of budgeting considerations, regional workshops are intended for local participants; applicants residing more than fifty miles from the workshop location will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All Regional Item Writing Workshops have been postponed until further notice due to COVID-19. Updates for the following locations will be provided as they are rescheduled:

    Tacoma, Washington
    Berrien Springs, Michigan
    Los Angeles, California
    Austin, Texas


    If you or someone you know would like to be a participant in a Basic or Regional Item Writing Workshop, apply online at www.fsbpt.org/Volunteer.aspx or send an inquiry to volunteer@fsbpt.org.

    Useful Pages

    Visit the FSBPT website for information on a range of topics.

    Back to Top

    If you have questions, challenges or ideas, we want to hear from you!
    FSBPT (703) 299-3100 | FCCPT (703) 684-8406
    (Call FSBPT unless otherwise noted after name)

    Contact Person



    William A. Hatherill

    Chief Executive Officer

    FSBPT Issues

    Susan Layton
    Rich Woolf

    Chief Operating Officer
    Chief Professional Officer

    General questions and feedback; research questions

    Lorin Mueller, PhD

    Managing Director of Assessment

    Psychometrics, test development and construction

    Christine Sousa

    Managing Director of Exam Services

    Exam administration issues, ADA

    Jamie Nolan, FCCPT

    Assistant Director of the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT)

    Foreign educated graduates

    Rhonda Collins

    Administrative Assistant

    School reports: schoolreports@fsbpt.org

    Practice Exam and Assessment Tool (PEAT): peat@fsbpt.org

    Back to Top