I was in the process for Philadelphia fire dept.. Made it all the way to the end.. Even did gear fitting but I was 20 pounds over.. i was working out 3 times a day..weight vest.. Tire flipping sledge hammers u name it.. Worst feeling in the world. I didn't know until 2 and a half monthes before that I had to make weight.. Lost 50 pounds.. Was in the ER with a kidney stone from limiting water intake and eating next to nothing. Don't guess or take someone's word for it or assume the doctor will pass you bc you look in shape..
The weight chart they used in Philly, based on posts here are similar. You have a target weight with a 20% buffer..so for me being 5'10 my weight was 185 or so.. And my buffer was 216.. And every inch in height the weight went up 5 pounds. So you couldn't exceed the upper buffer limit.
I'm sure if you're 5lbs or less it probably won't be an issue.. Just make the weight and live your dream.. Sacrifice NOW.. ESP. You guys in the top 1000. I wouldn't wish the feeling of being so close and turned away on anyone. Especially 1 of my future brothers.
Quick answer: degree in exercise science. Long answer: diet and exercise. Started running for at least an hour a day then it just got to miles once I got the hang of it. Ex football player so I eat like a savage so I cut that and started using the George foreman that was just laying around. Tried to Run first thing in the am and ate fruits and cereal a lot for breakfast, salads with home made dressing outta vinegar and salt and pepper with some ocean spray craisons for flavor. Grilled meat and veggies for dinner. Dropped the heavy lifting and did Cali's. never gave in and knew how bad I wanted it. They also made me get LASIK in that same 30 days but that was the easy part. I sped up my metabolism by eating something small every 2 hrs in between meals etc. read food labels to see how many calories how much fat, how many carbs etc. I was pretty extreme but I'm sure any of you guys would do the same for this job. People thought I was sick I lost so much weight so fast. Theory to it is you gotta have a plan. That's the key. If I didn't run in the morning I made sure when I got in from work I did. Sometimes I did both if I was feelin it. And when I was feeling like stopping I always happens to hear sirens lol. Great motivation when running outdoors.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Our Take on The Test
October 18, 2012
FDNY Entry Exam #2000 was given this past Spring and the list it generated was approved by Judge Nicholas Garaufis in late September. Various court documents were released explaining how the test was developed; we have analyzed them and base this commentary on those documents as well as conversations, events, booklets and other sources to arrive at our conclusion: this test was engineered to produce a pre-determined outcome and should be challenged by those with standing to do so.
In our Mission Statement we make it clear that our focus is on ensuring equal treatment for all and preserving high standards and merit for FDNY hiring and promotion. Accordingly, we are not swayed by the good or bad list numbers of friends and family: our motivation is clear, concise and contained in our Mission Statement. To allow this test to pass without analytical commentary would be a disservice to everyone connected to the FDNY and also to the civilians who depend on us. Silence is consent, and we will not be silent; nor will we “stand aside”, as a lawyer for the Vulcan Society recently pleaded us to do.
Our major points of contention are as follows:
Minimizing Score Differences
Document 977, filed on September 24, 2012 goes into great detail about test design and development and includes this statement: “Several factors were considered in assembling the final version of Form A (the final Computer Based Test – CBT), including…(c) minimizing racial/ethnic and gender group score differences”.
This paragraph goes on to say, “Considering these factors, the testing experts selected a 3-part video learning exercise and operations manual for the cognitive portion of the test”.
The above suggests that the test was engineered, or “rigged”, to achieve a pre-determined outcome. Sadly, there is precedence for this ‘outcome engineered’ test: in 1992 an official with the Department of Personnel (later to become DCAS) stated that FDNY entry tests were geared toward “factors which would enable minority and women applicants to compete for and enhance their chances of being considered for positions as firefighters”. Similar words and sentiments 20 years apart, but with a crucial difference: someone is now shining a light on the people and groups making these efforts to tilt the scales in favor of one group over another, which incredibly and sadly even includes the International Association of FireFighters (IAFF). They made changes to the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) program manual in 2006 that were “designed to increase the rate at which female firefighter candidates pass the test” according to a letter from IAFF President Harold Schaitberger.
We believe the efforts described above are illegal and should be challenged.
Cognitive and Non-Cognitive questions given equal weight
Document 977 also reveals that for this test the cognitive and non-cognitive portions will be “weighted equally”. For those who have ever wondered what people mean when they say a test has been “dumbed down”, this is the very definition of that phrase.
Cognitive questions are objective and designed to test knowledge; non-cognitive ones are concerned with seeking opinions or determining other subjective matter. Why would they be given equal weight? What would the list look like if only the cognitive questions were considered, as should be done and was done in the past?
A lawsuit known as The Guardians decision from 1980 advises that the test construction process include “sample testing to ensure that the questions were comprehensible and unambiguous”. “Ambiguous” means subject to more than one interpretation; uncertain or indefinite. From what we have been told, the whole non-cognitive portion was ambiguous – yet it is being “weighted equally” with the cognitive portion, which we believe gives rise to another avenue of legal challenge.
For perspective, here are some descriptions of the approximately 85 non-cognitive questions:
- How many friends from high school are you still in touch with? What are their names?
- What extra-curricular activities were you involved in?
- How many family members do you have in the fire department? (Note: we are very interested in learning how, or if, this was scored)
- How much time do you spend relaxing as compared to your friends?
- How many times have you said “thank you” this week?
- If someone is yelling at you is it okay to yell back if you are right?
Reasonable people might well question the justification for including questions such as these and if they did so, would receive this answer: we are able to predict what kind of employee a person will be based on their answers to them. I reject this premise outright, but for those who accept it I have a question: What effect does the existence of classes, booklets, instructors etc. that are designed to “coach” candidates on how to properly answer these questions have? “Honesty” is one of the “assessment dimensions” these subjective questions is designed to test for; why, then, are “suggestions” as to how to answer these questions being provided?
Let’s take a look at the “Vulcan Society Tutorial 2012 – Lesson Plan A” booklet for a good illustration of why I asked the questions in the previous paragraph. All of the following are taken from this booklet:
For background information survey questions you must know what information these questions are trying to retrieve from the test takers.
Knowing what personality traits and characteristics are being sought will greatly improve your chances of scoring well on these questions.
Next we will describe the characteristics and personality traits of a successful firefighter.
Those answers where you state that you prefer to work alone will not get you hired as a firefighter… (if you answer this way) you will automatically eliminate yourself from the firefighting exam process.
We highly recommend that you never, ever answer Not Sure! ...answering “Not Sure” may cause you to have a lower score on these types of examinations.
We want you to be honest taking your FDNY Examination… however, we do make suggestions in some areas of the test format. Some sections we will emphasize using only “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree”… (f)or these sections we give specific responses that we have highlighted in your suggested answers that we feel are important in determining how well you will do on this examination.
Is that enough, or should I go on? I think I’ll continue:
We expect that this (Teamwork) will be one of the main personality characteristics that will be highlighted in background information questions. (Gee, I wonder what caused them to make this prognostication? Gut instinct? Could the fact that Document 976-1 informs us that “PSI, DOJ and Vulcan Society testing experts reviewed the abilities and characteristics and classified them into ten assessment dimensions, linking them to literature-based constructs…”? This opinion is echoed by Vulcan Society official Paul Washington, as quoted in a media report: “We feel that the background information questions are going to be the most important part”.)
Stress characteristic questions are another area where we suggest you answer either “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree”.
A successful firefighter candidate will not Strongly Agree or Agree to any of these types of questions (Impression Control).
Important Test Note: We strongly recommend that you answer Strongly Disagree for these type of Impression Control questions.
Do you remember back in February 2012 when it was all over the news that the Vulcan Society refused white candidates entry into their test prep center? This is the material that was imparted to the black and Hispanic attendees. (The NYC Commission for Human Rights has filed a complaint against the Vulcan Society for excluding white candidates from the prep class.) In my opinion, these examples dispute completely the premise that subjective, background information survey questions are acceptable or valid. Indeed, the Vulcan Society is specifically coaching people on how to beat the test and ensure they get the highest score instead of being the most honest. I wonder if the testing companies, experts, psychometricians, PhDs and others who have been peddling the idea that non-cognitive questions are valid predictors of success (for personal gain and employment) are now going to be angry with the Vulcan Society for letting this particular cat out of the bag?
We are pleased that reading comprehension ability was included on this test, despite the Vulcans’ argument and judge’s ruling that it was not required to be a firefighter. Incredibly, Document 977 reveals that the test developers apparently weren’t sure it was a necessary requirement, but since “nearly all the firefighters (participating in the job analysis) stated it would be difficult or impossible to pass the Academy without reading or referring to the training manual” (and just who were the firefighters who disagreed with this overwhelming majority?) they decided to make it a small part of the test.
Even more incredibly, promises had to be extracted that reading would be tested, and the possibility of reading questions to applicants who were incapable of reading was the subject of serious discussion during the test development process. Video and audio sections of the test were added in an effort designed to equalize between applicants who read well enough to do the job and those with reading skills far above those necessary (This makes sense, because, come on now, we don’t want anybody that’s too smart!). To add insult to injury, “(t)he two cognitive components were assigned weights of .70 for video learning and .30 for operations manual (the reading part) for purposes of computing a total cognitive score”. Yes, that means reading comprehension counted for a dismal 15% of the test since it was only 30% of the cognitive score, and the cognitive score counted for only 50% of the final score.
What were the relevant reading levels?
Test Grades 9.9 – 11.5 (High School diploma- Grade 12- required for hiring)
FD books that must be read Grades 8.3 – 15.9
Document 977 tells us “that Exam 2000 was calibrated to a reading level consistent with the demands of an entry level firefighter’s job”, but this false statement (as revealed above) ignores that in the same document it states “PSI (the testing company) conducted a ‘readability’ analysis of the materials read by firefighters” and the results revealed values ranging from, again, 8.3 – 15.9; more than 4 grades higher than the highest level tested on Exam 2000.
One bright note – I now have a new euphemism (“calibrated”) to use in place of “rigged” or “dumbed down”.
This is one of the major points of contention and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of the Special Master Mary Jo White. What possible valid reason could there be for not announcing the method you will be using to score the test before the test is given? Is it possible that some mischief was afoot? Why were some questions not even scored? Did the powers that be need to see how certain ethnic groups scored to then decide what the right multiple choice answer was?
We have been assured that “Prior to administration of the test to applicants, PSI developed a scoring methodology using data gathered in the job analysis, criterion-related validation study and the alternate form equivalency study”. We have also been told that “(i)t is important to note that PSI’s grading system – which they established prior to the administration of the test – was used to mark the exam and was not adjusted in any way post-exam”. If these two statements are true it should be easy to verify them, and that is what we are calling for. Any delay or refusal to do so will only heighten suspicion and resentment.
Document 619-4 filed February 28, 2011 stated the following under the heading “Development of New Selection Procedure”: “(b) the development of the new selection procedure shall be guided by the professional judgment of the experts and shall not be constrained by specific determinations made before the development process began”. This flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants approach does little to instill confidence in either the process or the experts. Let’s see some proof that the scoring method was in fact developed before the test was given and that it was, indeed, followed post-test.
If our call for proof indicates to some that we don’t trust those tasked with the fair administration of this test, allow me to unequivocally state: they are right. We don’t trust them, and any chance we would was crushed when applicants were forced – against common decency and relevant laws but apparently within Judge Garaufis’ remedial authority – to indicate their race and gender on the application. It is my opinion that when it is said demographic information won’t be used to make hiring decisions this promise is kept – right up until the time that they use demographic information to make hiring decisions. Contrary to popular opinion, Vulcan President John Coombs isn’t always wrong, and he was right when he said that “(t)he entry level exam should have nothing to do with race and ethnicity”; alas, his actions and those of many others in this mess belie that statement.
High Standards and Cognitive Ability Shunned
In January 2011 a panel of former Fire Academy Instructors was selected whose task was to help develop the new entry test. Lieutenant George Rodriquez was among those selected, but he was notified approximately two weeks later, before the panel was first scheduled to meet, that he was being removed because he serves as the Sergeant at Arms for Merit Matters and may hold a bias against minorities. Since Lt. Rodriguez is Hispanic we were confused, but have never received an explanation for this statement. It would seem those who made this decision harbor a prejudicial view of him since they made a false allegation about him and his views of others. Isn’t such behavior supposed to be outlawed and deemed intolerable within the FDNY?
As it turns out, the bias held by Lt. Rodriguez that was most concerning to some was his bias in favor of high standards and the importance of testing for cognitive ability. Other uniformed personnel who shared Lt. Rodriguez’ bias were also dropped from the panel and, in fact, the panel was dissolved before it ever met – perhaps out of fear that the recommendations it made would not serve the needs of those who argue that reading comprehension ability is not required for firefighting.
In connection with this episode we contacted Special Master Mary Jo White and others to express our concern about other people and entities involved in the test development process – specifically, the Vulcan Society and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division - and concerns we had regarding possible bias held by these organizations, documented examples of which we provided. Ms. White answered with an amorphous reply noting that the Court has directed that these parties were to participate so that, according to her, settled the matter.
I often remark that when I begin explaining the issues surrounding this lawsuit to people new to them, I have to assure them that I am not lying. I’m not lying now either, and anyone wishing to confirm the facts included in this section can contact me, as I have names, dates, conversations etc. well-documented and will be happy to share my correspondence with Ms. White with all interested parties.
The time period established to receive this 5 point credit was July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 – before the filing period commenced. This removed the opportunity for applicants committed to becoming firefighters to move into NYC and was done ostensibly to benefit NYC residents. I write “ostensibly” because there are numerous instances over the course of many years where the comments of many people make it clear that the city residency credit is being used to benefit minorities – an illegal act, as any policy designed to benefit any group over another is prohibited by numerous city, State and Federal laws.
How, then, has this been allowed? The answer is strident advocacy and moral cowardice. Few people have been willing to oppose affirmative action policies out of fear of being labeled a “racist” or a “sexist”, but this timidity is receding. Double standards exist because no one challenges them, but they are increasingly being challenged and defeated.
How bad has this gotten? In 1994 a city residency credit was retroactively established for the FDNY entry test given in 1992 and, again, it was done to benefit certain groups over others. Discrimination against one is discrimination against all and policies like this that shift discrimination around, rather than eliminate it, should be challenged.
The pressures applied by this lawsuit have caused some pretty amazing events to occur:
Filing period extended – this has occurred for numerous filing periods in the past, but in the past those doing so have not been so blatant and/or honest about their reason for doing so: not enough minorities had signed up. This time, the document filed specifically cited the opportunity to recruit at the African-American Day parade as the reason for the request. Note: The Steuben Day parade was the same weekend; were any recruiters dispatched to it?
Failure to attend assigned test date – before the testing began PSI made it clear that, although you can re-schedule your assigned test date if it poses a problem, if you fail to appear when you are scheduled to you will forfeit any chance to take the test. This policy was changed, and applicants did not even have to petition to be given a second chance; phone calls were made to them offering a make-up date! One of the assessment dimensions purportedly tested for by the non-cognitive questions was “conscientiousness”; how does this policy reward that?
Home visits for black applicants only – I swear, I think somebody on their side is a traitor and instituted this policy to help Merit Matters.
Here’s what happened: numerous individuals (about 4,000) submitted incomplete applications so therefore were not going to be able to take the test. The majority of these came from black applicants so it was decided that the Vulcan Society would go to their homes in January 2012 – 4 months after the already extended filing period had ended – and the black applicants would get a “do-over”.
I don’t believe anyone should get a chance to apply in this fashion and we made that clear before Christmas. We also made it clear that if one group was going to be allowed to correct incomplete applications, all groups should be – and Merit Matters would provide volunteers to visit everyone. This offer was rejected. The end result? Only black applicants were afforded “EEO” protection: Extra Employment Opportunity.
We have laid out a lot here, but stand ready to help any and all understand the different issues raised and determine whether a legal challenge is feasible. We cannot bring any such action as we do not have standing but urge that it be considered and, again, will help the process along.
This “test” reflects a growing pattern as well as a consensus that testing for knowledge is not “fair”, a belief we reject strongly. Testing companies that benefit from delivering municipalities results that avoid lawsuits are going to naturally tout the benefits of such “tests”; I suppose it could be argued we should not therefore be too visceral in our criticism of them. PSI put in a lot of work and employed at least six PhDs among numerous other experts in developing this test but, for the reasons we list here, have failed to present a valid test; and as for the qualifications of said experts and the fact that a mere fireman feels fit to criticize them:
“There are some things so stupid only an intellectual will believe them” (George Orwell)
“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense” (Robert G. Ingersoll)
We will, however, viscerally oppose the belief that fuels the argument that cognitive tests are not fair: minorities are not capable of competing on an intellectual level. We also will continue to oppose those who stand by while a dangerous job is insulted, minimized and attacked, even by those who have in the past or presently serve as firefighters (Orwell again: “Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for”). To expand on this last point, I don’t know what’s worse: firefighters who engage in such attacks or firefighters and their leaders who meekly submit in the face of them.
President - Merit Matters
once your on the job you have to be under certain weight (which is heavier then the weight you have to be at to get on) and while on the job if you go for a medical and are over weight the send you to "fat camp" at the rock.
Does anyone know if a nypd pysch DQ prevent one from getting on fdny?