In an ongoing push to expand inclusivity and accessibility, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced on June 30, that it will be offering testing accommodations for Architect Registration Examination (ARE) non-native English speaking candidates.
Non-native English speaking candidates can now apply for English as a second language (ESL) testing accommodations via the Application for English as a Second Language Testing Accommodations available on the NCARB website. Accommodations will allow test takers an extension equivalent to 20 percent of the allocated testing duration and the use of a personal word-to-word translation dictionary of the candidates choosing (with no notes, annotations, or markings added to the text).
ARE, a six-part licensure examination, is required for professional architectural practice by all 55 U.S. jurisdictions (all 50 states, along with District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). The new ESL accommodations will be available on national licensing exams in all jurisdictions that require it, except in the state of New York. While the state accepts exams taken with accommodations for disabilities (which also includes additional testing time, as well as access to separate testing rooms and more breaks), candidates who have passed the exam with ESL accommodations will be required to take the ARE without the added measures in order to receive a license in New York.
According to the NCARB, the new ESL accommodations follow continued research and analysis by the NCARB on how its programs disproportionately impact candidates from under-represented backgrounds. In the fall of 2021, NCARB and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) published Baseline on Belonging, a joint study identifying the obstacles to licensure experienced by minority professionals. In the report, 6.8 percent of the 5,000 survey participants responded that speaking English as a second language negatively impacted them when pursuing a degree in architecture (participants included both recently licensed professionals, professionals who are no longer interested in licensure, and those in between).
“By ensuring that candidates who speak English as a second language have access to the resources they need to succeed on the exam, we hope to lessen unnecessary barriers on the path to licensure—while still confirming that the individuals who become licensed architects possess all the necessary knowledge and skills to protect the public,” said NCARB President Bayliss Ward.