ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB016 (2009)

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB016
ARLB016 FCC Denies Petition to Increase Size of Amateur Radio
Question Pools

ZCZC AG16
QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 16  ARLB016
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 20, 2009
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB016
ARLB016 FCC Denies Petition to Increase Size of Amateur Radio
Question Pools

In April 2008, Michael Mancuso, KI4NGN, of Raleigh, North Carolina,
filed a petition with the FCC, seeking to increase the size of the
question pools that make up the Amateur Radio licensing exams.
Mancuso sought to increase the question pool from 10 times the
number of questions on an exam to 50 times more questions. On March
19, 2009, the Commission notified Mancuso that it was denying his
petition.

In his 2008 petition, Mancuso claimed that the current question pool
is too easy to memorize and "that there has been a significant
increase in the number of Amateur Radio operators receiving their
licenses over at least the last decade or more who do not appear to
possess the knowledge indicated by the class of license that they
have received. Most discussion about this topic, both on the air and
on Internet forums, generally refers to these widespread
observations as the 'dumbing down' of Amateur Radio. It has been
widely assumed that the cause of this observed situation is based
upon the subject material addressed by the license examinations,
that the material requirements specified for the examinations does
[sic] not meet some minimum level of knowledge expected by some or
many in the Amateur Radio community."

The FCC pointed out to Mancuso that each applicant for a new or
upgraded Amateur Radio operator license "is required to pass a
written examination in order to prove that he or she possesses the
operational and technical qualifications required to perform
properly the duties of an amateur service operator licensee, i.e.,
that he or she is qualified to be an amateur service licensee."

The Commission summed up Mancuso's petition, saying, "You argue that
the current question pool size is no longer adequate, because online
practice examinations enable examinees to memorize a question pool
without fully comprehending the subject matter being tested.
Consequently, you propose to increase the size of the question
pools, in order to hinder memorization."

The Commission concluded that Mancuso did not present grounds for
the Commission to amend its rules: "As noted above, the purpose of
the examinations is not to demonstrate an applicant's comprehension
of certain material, but rather to determine whether he or she can
properly operate an amateur station. Moreover, your contention that
there has been 'a significant increase in the number of Amateur
Radio operators...who do not appear to possess the knowledge
indicated by their class of license' is not supported by any data or
facts."

The FCC pointed out to Mancuso that the Commission's Rules only
dictate the minimum number of questions for each question pool for
the three Amateur Radio license classes. This, the Commission told
Mancuso, "does not prevent the National Conference of Volunteer
Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) from increasing the number of
questions in a question pool should it decide that this is
appropriate. We conclude, therefore, that the petition presents no
evidence of an existing problem or other reason for a rule change."
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