Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE L.A.R.E. – COMPLAINTS AND PETITION FOR CHANGE…..

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    I am going to be adding my CLARB survey that I received and filled out after my recent redline review of the Section E: Grading, Drainage, and Stormwater management. I would like any and all of you to forward it to anyone that has taken or will be taking the test and would like to add to my comments…..I will be compiling these complaints and preparing a petition that I would like all of you to sign and to pass on to others so that we might petition a restructuring of the review and preparation of the L.A.R.E. I have talked and heard complaints from too many people to let this go unnoticed or let CLARB be unaccountable for how sloppy they administer the test……

    Please read my complaints and add your own so that I might compile a record for use in a petition process of LARE procedures and administration…..It is time for real change and time that someone do something about the way this test is given……agree or disagree with me at your will …..I welcome any and all comments…..

    Colleen Murphy

    I totally agree with everything that you wrote. I will be sending my survey back with the exact comments. We should copy the president of the ASLA, maybe some changes would happen. In the mean while civil engineers are just taking a larger percentage of our work. Clarb lives in a dream world, they are so out of touch with every thing except how to make money.


    Happy to sign a complaint form. I too filled out “the form” and gave it to the redline admin person. CLARB should be held to the same exacting standards they hold us to. (but dont).


    Eric Gilbey

    Brandon (and others), You are probably not going to be shocked to know that CLARB has heard all of these complaints, and ASLA’s Committee on LARE Prep is aware of these, too. It never hurts to submit them, since they have asked for them with the survey, after your redlines.
    Recognizing that CLARB is the creator, (in some areas) the administrator, and the evalutator, we should also realize that there is some rationale to them not being the ones who actually help you pass the exam. This may be where ASLA will be continuing to expand it’s ability to do the latter. Theoretically, If the entity who creates, administers and evaluates the exam helped you pass, then there might be legal issues in some states, where our license could be challeneged, where others could then point this out as being an undefensible exam, since the creators, adminstrators and evaluators would be helping you to pass it, too.
    Now, don’t get me wrong…something has to be done to make the evaluations candidates receive from CLARB understood to the point where a candidate would know better how to make improvements, without allowing some who really have no business passing this exam to slip through, and thus being perceived as minimally competant, and thus endangering the public’s health safety and welfare.
    The ASLA Committee on LARE Prep has been discussing this and will continue to discuss this and there are many, if not all on the committee, that recognize there has to be a way in which others in our profession can be of assistance to candidates, as they seek completion of this next step in their professional development.
    In the mean time, continue to utilize other LAs, contractors, and related professionals wherever possible, to boost your knowledge in the areas that you find (or CLARB finds) that you need more help. If there is anything that I can be of more help with, please let me know.
    Best of luck to those testing this week!

    Colleen Murphy

    I have never heard of someone who has no business passing the exam, even taking the exam. My understanding is that you have to meet the education and work experience requirements to even take the exam. That kind of thinking is the exact reason why civil engineer, architects, planners, landscape contractors, and now environmental consultants are taking work away from LA. If the ASLA does not recognize that the failure rate affects the success of all LA’s they are crazy. It is some kind of club that keeps the profession frozen in time. If CLARB can not help, then the ASLA must address the misuse of the funds that CLARB receives for exams that do not have acceptable passing rates. You should not have to retake the test to figure out how the test is written to pass. The test should test your ability to grade cut and dry. It should be alarming to everyone that past employees of CLARB both have their own study guides and courses to purchase. I think that is a conflicted of interest, or at least a reflection of how CLARB sees CLARB first as a money making business. Change seems to be the focus of the new year, LA’s need to stand up for the some changes too.


    From reading your comments I’m getting the impression that they send you a list of comments, not actual redlines of your vignette. Is this correct? If so, it is absolutely ridiculous.


    In states with recent practice acts, there are numerous licensed LA’s who have been “grandfathered” in; i.e., never had to take the tests, and guess what? Some of them are involved in writing the test! It’s one thing to be able to identify a canon of important skills and information for licensure. It takes an entirely different kind of ability to write a fair exam. The boards that write tests like the SAT and GRE have been studying their own methods and adjusting the exams for decades…CLARB could use a little of that help, I think.


    They barely send you a list of comments. There is a list of grading criteria that they have established for Section C and E., and then there is a scoring system of 1, 2 or 3. 1 = Pass, 2 = Slightly below knowledge needed to pass, 3=Well below. The scores you receive in no way reference any specific problem within the test. One basically has to look at the grading criteria for the particular section in question and extrapilate from that where their weeknesses are.

    I suppose in some sort of twisted way its a good thing because if you knew you failed a given problem because of X, Y, and Z you might then overly focus on just those issues when studying for the next exam, ignoring more global issues. Then the next test comes around and the problems are in no way the same and you have spent so much time focusing on some minute unrelated issues that you end up failing again because its a different problem entirely.
    (Of course I am just speculating on their scoring process, I have absolutely no knowledge of how they think.)

    Matthew Durkovich

    I’m going to try taking the mult. choice sections this fall for the 1st time and would love any help. If you could send me that pdf file that would be great. matthew.durkovich@jacobs.com

    david j bockman

    Slightly off topic, but if the owner/admin of the Google newsgroup L.A.R.E. is present, I was banned from it when I posted an alert that several posts were obviously being sent from hijacked accounts, and the contents held a malicious website address. Can we talk, please? Or, if you’re a member of that newsgroup, I would appreciate it if you would repost this there. Thanks,


    Trace One

    Definitely support this effort – review sessions are garbage, exam itself has parts that are off the wall, and they never tell you the right answer – Many many complaints..
    Many people will not agree with me, but I am adamant – HISTORY of Landscape Architecture MUST be part of exam!!!

    what are we, cretins? We need to support cultural history, for gods sake!!!

    Also would like to develop writing on landscape and criticism of landscape design, as separate topics..


    The process sounds like a nightmare judging from what I’ve heard and read here and elsewhere. Thanks for taking the inititive with this whether it be a fruitful cause ot otherwise.

    Maureen Smith

    I went to a red line and questioned if all mistakes were addressed. Two minor errors were marked but there was no critical mistakes marked up. I was wondering if they look briefly at the problem and mark up the first 2 things they see and move on to the next one. I left feeling like I wasn’t sure that my overall solution was correct.

    I also sat for last December’s exam and was sitting up front facing the proctor’s, Great not distractions!!!! Put in my ear pluggs and jumped into the exam. About an hour in the proctor’s in front of me started to chit-chat loudly. I was appalled, I couldn’t believe how inconsiderate they were. I did a zip-it motion. I could not get back to where I left off. My mind was blank and I sat there trying to regroup my thoughts thinking I was missing something on the problem I was wrapping before being interupted. As soon as I left the test I realized that about 10 minutes following incident was a complete blurr. I can’t remember if I traced my 3 swale lines to the storm drain and followed my trace lines and just went around the detention pond. I juess I’ll find out next month. I feel like I wasted about $600.00. This is the last exam besides the Florida section that I need for licensing. I am really upset at the whole thing. If I don’t pass this time I feel like I’ll have to go the the redline again and see if their distraction was the cause. Cha- ching Clarb.

    Heather Barber

    I am completely with you on this. Change has got to be a driving force if the profession is to evolve and adapt to the current demands. I too am beyond the point of utter rage with the archaic, profit driven way this test is administered(handed down rather) and I am seriously entertaining the notion of dropping ASLA and the profession as a whole and titling my firm(as many others have done) as environmental design. I feel as though I have jumped through the vague and ridiculous hoops to be a part of a postulating, jaw exercising, ‘good old boy’ club that cannot define itself internally, much less with the public. No thanks. I am working too hard to build the respect and reputation of the profession to waste time with the rigors and costs of designing and grading to one subjective point of view.

    Thank you for your follow through on this. You have my support whole heartedly,


    Jim Morgan, RLA

    I recommend to all who want to pass any portion of the LARE, especially section E, to attend the reviews at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. I struggled a little bit with these exams, however, I took the review at UGA and passed. They know what they’re doing.

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