By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission
Last month we briefly discussed two significant changes that occurred in the essay requirement. Since AEM and CEM candidates had questions on how to interpret the changes, we will be exploring the essay requirement in some detail through a series of articles. This first article focuses on the grading rubric used by the Commissioners.
The first thing to know is that the essay is a written narrative response to a specified problem scenario. It is not a bullet listing or talking points. The Commissioners expect the essay to be a well-organized, well-developed and well-written narrative with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. According to the 2012 application packet, the Commissioners use the essay in lieu of a formal interview to “assess the candidate’s knowledge and abilities of disaster/emergency management and written communication skills.” As such, the essay is qualitative in nature. That is, the Commissioners assign a score to the essay following a strict grading rubric that ensures consistency and fairness.
The grading rubric is divided into three sections. The first section can earn a maximum of six points, with one point assigned to each of six different design elements. If a design element is addressed, the candidate earns one point. If a design element is not addressed, the candidate earns zero points. The six design elements are:
On their first pass, the Commissioners read the essay to determine if the candidate included each of the six design elements and assigns the appropriate number of points.
The second section of the grading rubric can earn a maximum of 18 points, with zero to two points assigned to each of nine knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). A candidate earns two points if the KSA is addressed in depth; earns one point if the KSA is minimally addressed; and earns zero points if a KSA is not addressed. The nine KSAs are:
On their second pass, the Commissioners reread the essay to determine if the candidate addressed each of the nine KSAs and how well each KSA was addressed.
The third section is a “go/no go” determination consisting of two questions. The first question has to do with the independent work statement. Candidates are required to type and sign the following statement at the end of their essay: “I verify that I have independently completed this essay.” Failing to do so results in an incomplete, and a candidate must resubmit the essay.
The second question has to do with formatting. To properly format the essay, it must be prepared using a word processing program, with 12-point type, one inch/2.5 centimeters margins, and double-spaced. Failing to do so reduces the KSA number 9 score.
After multiple reviews, the Commissioners then add up the points. A candidate must earn a minimum of 18 out of 24 points (75%) to pass the essay requirement. Anything less results in an incomplete, and a candidate must resubmit the essay.
All Commissioners use the grading rubric with each essay. Ensure that your essay includes all the specified criteria, and you should earn enough points to pass. Next month’s article will address the new scenario and describe how candidates may choose to interpret it.
IAEM Bulletin, November 2012
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