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13/09/2010: Ambassador Gaa Meets with FSBPT Officials on the RP Physical Therapy Graduates Issue

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy Gaa, together with an Embassy team which included Post’s Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla, met with the officers of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) last September 3 on the issue of the suspension of examinations for physical therapy graduates.

In July 2010, the FSBPT suspended National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) testing for all graduates of schools in Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Philippines “in response to pervasive, ongoing security breaches by significant numbers of graduates” from PT schools in those countries.

During the meeting, the FSBPT clarified that they have been conducting an investigation for the past few years, and have found evidence of systematic and methodical sharing and distribution of recalled questions by significant numbers of graduates of programs in the affected countries. This evidence was obtained through extensive forensic analyses of exam performances, as well as a variety of legal actions brought by the Federation in the United States and abroad.  Furthermore, the breach goes beyond a single test preparation company, and that the sharing of test items has also occurred through private access websites, and the selling of copies of materials containing the recalled questions.  As a result of its findings, FSBPT submitted that graduates of PT schools in the Philippines have an “undue advantage”, and may be passing the exam based on this undue advantage, rather than actual competence and knowledge.

To ensure the integrity of their examinations, the FSBPT claimed it was compelled to temporarily suspend the conduct of examinations for candidates from the four countries. Going forward, they would develop a separate set of exams, using questions that have not been used before (and would most likely not be repeated again in future exams). They expected the new sets of exams to be ready by September 2011.

It is relevant to mention that the Philippine Government has taken a number of proactive measures on the matter.  An inter-agency consultative group was formed to focus on prospective actions to address the problems raised by FSBPT.  The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has required review centers to register and link up with higher education institutions.  It has also adopted policies and standards for the academic curriculum for Physical Therapy and included Ethics in their curriculum.  The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has conducted an information campaign to highlight the importance of contractual obligations, intellectual property rights and other related concerns.  Although the CHED and PRC have no jurisdiction to regulate review centers in the light of a recent Supreme Court ruling, efforts continue to be exerted in finding an appropriate solution to the issue.

Considering that a significant number of foreign-educated PT graduates are from the Philippines, it was agreed that it was to everyone’s best interest to be able to resolve this soonest. A commitment was made to work closely with FSBPT to continue to explore ways to have the Philippines removed from the restricted list.  END