What the Heck is PEARS?

Evaluating our charter certification applicants’ submission packets was a manual process. The candidates assembled their packets and emailed Zip archives to the office. There an administrator opened the packets to verify their completeness, forwarded them to evaluators, and tracked who had evaluated what. Evaluators received the emailed packets, did their thing, and emailed back scores to be tallied. Emails flew back and forth. Both administrators and evaluators were left with packets in their email folders and on their computers. Some applicants sent us files we couldn’t open. The whole thing was neither fast or efficient.

We knew we could do better, and now we are. Applicants are beginning to hear about an entirely new submission process. What is it, and how is it better? Here’s a brief explanation and description of the process.

Introducing PEARS

PEARS logo

The Performance Exam Automated Rating System (PEARS), developed by The Caviart Group, is a distributed certification scoring system that manages the process of collecting, evaluating, and scoring certification materials.  PEARS is easy to use for both applicants and evaluators. The system knows how many submission sections are in your certification, how many you’ve already uploaded, and how many you have left to go. The upload process is very simple, but if you load the wrong file or need to make an edit, you can upload a replacement file as many times as you want. You can upload sections as you complete them or all at once, and in any order. You can upload on your own schedule: some files now, others later. If you make changes to a section after uploading a copy, you can replace it as many times as necessary.

Once you’ve uploaded all your sections, you submit your packet. PEARS notifies evaluators that they can begin evaluation. PEARS tracks the evaluation process section by section, and when a packet is completely evaluated it’s removed from the evaluation queue and the administrator is notified. In this way PEARS automates most of the administrative processes.

The PEARS website is secure, anonymous, and private. Once you upload your submission packet, no one sees it but the evaluators (and—only if necessary—a system administrator). No one can identify a packet except the administrator. Your packet doesn’t go anywhere else; evaluators view it, but can’t download it or print it out. Finally, after evaluation is complete, packets are erased according to our records retention policy.

How Do I Use It?

To use PEARS, you need your username, your password, and the URL, all of which you receive from the Commission upon payment of your evaluation fee. Then you prepare your submission packet, one PDF file per section. For the CPTC™ certification, you will create exactly nine PDF files.

Note: PDF files must be static files and unencrypted. Do not include any interactive elements or attachments in your PDF files.

Whenever you’re ready to start uploading sections:

1. Log in to PEARS. The home page shows two areas, an Announcements area and an Upload Queue area. The Upload Queue area shows the number of submissions (that is, packets) you need to upload, and the Uploads Remaining column shows number of uploads (that is, sections) you have remaining. For the CPTC™ certification, the first time you log in, it will show that you have 1 submission and 9 uploads remaining:

Upload Queue area

2. In the Upload Queue area, click Upload. The Upload Queue page opens:

Upload Queue page

3. Click Browse next to the section name that you want to upload. On your computer, a standard File Open window opens.

4. Select the PDF file that you want to upload.

5. Click Upload (or Cancel if you selected the wrong file). The file name is displayed on the Upload Queue page; for example:

Upload Queue Page

6. Verify that the file you selected is the correct one for the section.

7. Click Upload (or Cancel if you selected the wrong file). The file uploads; wait for the upload to complete. The Upload Queue section indicates the number of uploads (that is, sections) remaining.

8. Verify that you have uploaded the correct file for the section.

Note: If you made a mistake, repeat steps 3 through 7. The new upload overwrites the previous one.

9. Repeat steps 3 through 8 until every file of your packet is uploaded to the correct section.

Important: Once you submit your packet, you cannot make any more changes to it, so before you submit your packet, ensure that everything is the way you want it.

10. Once you have uploaded and verified all sections, click Complete Submission. This ends the upload process, and PEARS automatically begins the scoring process.

Note: The Complete Submission button will not be clickable until you have uploaded all sections. No sections are scored before all sections are uploaded and you have clicked Complete Submission. Once you click Complete Submission, the Upload Queue area shows that you have 0 submissions and 0 uploads remaining, and no required sections are shown in the queue.

That’s It!

The process takes longer to describe than to complete. If you have problems with the software, click Contact Us to send an email to the support group. But you probably won’t need to. PEARS is a big improvement over the manual process we started with, and we think you’ll find using it easy and effective.

Published by Steven Jong

I am a lifelong technical communicator, a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), a former STC board member, and chair of the first STC Certification Commission. I occasionally blog about these and other topics.

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