OSA Newsline - June 29, 2007

The union has finished compiling the tiem analysis for the recent Staff Analyst Trainee exam. At the links following this paragraph you can download the item analysis compiled for the June 16, 2007 Staff Analyst Trainee exam and the Sunday, June 17, 2007 Sabbath Observer session. The item analysis shows the number and percentage of those who took the test and sent us a copy of their answer sheets who chose each answer to the 80 questions. We base the analysis for the Saturday session on the first 200 answer sheets sent in to the union. The Sunday session is another story. We only received five answer sheets and, while we have compiled the data and present it below, we do not know if it is statistically valid. To get a passing grade you need to have answered at least 56 of the 80 questions correctly.

Item Analysis For the Main, Saturday, June 16, 2007 Staff Analyst Trainee Exam Session

Item Analysis For the Alternate, Sunday, June 17, 2007 Staff Analyst Trainee Exam Session

We provide the analysis for two reasons. First, candidates can get a general idea of how they did before DCAS issues its proposed key on the 4th Monday after the exam. Second, and perhaps more important, by comparing your own answers against the analysis and the proposed key, when it is issued in July, you can single out questions where many other candidates also got the answer "wrong." This is of value if there are questions related to judgment -- and there often are. If a question is a matter of fact, it does not matter if most candidates are wrong, they are just wrong.

At the walk-in test review session on the 4th Wednesday after the exam, you will have the opportunity to review the entire test and compare your answers with DCAS's proposed key. The item analysis can help guide you toward those questions that may be especially valuable to review and protest. You can submit a protest at the review session or within 30 days to DCAS (though it probably makes sense to do it at the review session, since you can't take notes or the questions out of the session).

You must justify why the answer you've chosen should be accepted as correct. In some cases, DCAS may revise its proposed key to accept more than one answer or they may give credit for all answers to an especially poorly worded or confusing question.

In the item analysis, we have highlighted those answers selected by more than 50.1% of those responding. In cases where no answer drew more than 50.1% of total responses, we have highlighted the highest two (or in a few cases, more) answers chosen.

Thanks to George Morgan for compiling the numbers and Rob Spencer for developing the spreadsheets with the results.

OSA Newsline - June 25, 2007

Last week's newsline invited candidates from the Staff Analyst Trainee exam to send us letters if they had run into difficulties with the administration of that exam.

A great many candidates telephoned in their complaints but, more usefully, fifteen letters criticizing the test conditions came in by Friday. The written complaints went from a half page to as long as three pages.

Points noted so far include distress over cell phones ringing during the test and improper assemblage of some exam booklets, to errors on the exam itself and, of course, the time.

At Canarsie the monitors did let the candidates come in out of the rain to an auditorium at 5:30pm, but the exam started at 6:20pm. The problem at Franklin K. Lane. HS was exacerbated by the loud music from the neighborhood which was, reasonably enough, celebrating a warm, June Saturday night.

Environmental Studies HS seems to have had the worst situation - two hours of drenching showers before the candidates were even allowed into the building and an exam that started after 7pm. One member got home at 4am Sunday, thanks to the late starting exam and our city’s weekend public transit schedule after midnight.

We will be bringing these complaints, and any others we receive, to DCAS in hopes of avoiding future problems. Some of the problems are not DCAS's fault. Candidates who fail to shut off their cell phones do themselves and others a disservice.

Meanwhile, a 4:30pm exam is a bad idea that got made worse by a two hour delay and early evening rain storms. Surely, DCAS can find more high schools to use so this disaster is not repeated.

OSA Newsline - June 20, 2007

In the days following the Staff Analyst Trainee exam, the union has learned that DCAS has decided to employ a walk-in test review and protest procedure for this exam. This is the first time this procedure has been used for an exam in our title series. Unfortunately, DCAS did not choose to share this change with the union prior to the exam. Therefore, the information we included in a letter distributed to candidates on the day of the exam recommending they submit a request to review the exam within a week will not apply this time. You will simply have to show up at DCAS's testing center at 26 Washington Street on the 4th Wednesday following the test starting at 9am. Of course, we also know that some candidates received the old instruction for requesting a review in writing.

The union has been in touch with DCAS and has informed them of these issues. They assure us that any requests to review the exam submitted by mail according to the old procedure will be accommodated, as will all who show up at Washington Street on the date of the walk-in review.

The union will be closely monitoring the new process and working to ensure that it runs smoothly.

OSA Newsline - June 18, 2007

On Saturday, some candidates for Staff Analyst Trainee were severely tried even before the exam began. At Environmental Studies High School in Manhattan, candidates expected the exam to start at the unusual time of 4:30pm but, in fact, the doors did not open until after 6pm - and the exam started at 7:02!

Candidates who wish to comment on the exam can and should include those comments on a separate sheet sent to the union along with a copy of your answer sheet.

A major demonstration was held last week at City Hall. OSA members turned out in support of the fight against layoffs at the Housing Authority. OSA Vice-Chairperson Tom Anderson was quoted by Chelsea News, a local newspaper. A copy of the article will be in this summer's mailing. Tom's comments did us credit.

OSA Newsline - June 11, 2007

The Teamsters will be holding a rally at City Hall this Tuesday at 5pm. The rally will be in support of getting additional Federal, State and City funding for the New York City Housing Authority. OSA has been asked to participate and we are urging all OSA members who can do so to attend. The rally will be outside City Hall Park, across from NYCHA’s main building at 250 Broadway.

There are hundreds of jobs at stake, not to mention the danger to low cost housing in our City. Please attend if you can.

We had some good news from our negotiating team. After five years of negotiations, arbitration, and impasse, etc., our uniformed members in the higher ranks of School Safety and Traffic Enforcement, finally are due to vote on a six year contract for the period from 2002 until 2008. Details will follow in the summer mailing, but it seems they did well by stubbornly refusing the earlier insulting offers from the City.

Finally, the best of luck to the thousands of candidates taking the Staff Analyst Trainee, Assistant Transit Mgmt Analyst and Ed Analyst Trainee exams this Saturday and Sunday.

OSA Newsline - June 6, 2007

DCAS has announced the locations for the upcoming Staff Analyst Trainee exam. The exam will be given at two schools in Manhattan, two in Queens and one in Brooklyn. The Manhattan schools are Environmental Studies at 444 West 56 Street (west of 9th Avenue) and Seward Park High School at 350 Grand Street. The exam is being given at Canarsie High School at 1600 Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn, as well as at Richmond Hill High School at 89-30 114th Street and Franklin K. Lane High School at 999 Jamaica Avenue, both in Queens.

Admission cards are in the mail from DCAS, so you should be receiving them in the next few days. If you do not, be sure to contact DCAS. You may have to go to 1 Centre Street, 14th Floor, during normal business hours on one of the four days preceding the test date to obtain an admission card.

OSA Newsline - June 4, 2007

The Organization of Staff Analysts is concerned over the current fiscal crisis at the New York City Housing Authority. The Housing Authority is being starved, financially, by the Bush Administration in Washington. This has been going on since the Administration took office and led to a round of layoffs a few years ago.

Efforts to get the State and City to cover the deficit from Washington have not been successful as of yet. If there is no help, 500 more positions will be cut by NYCHA this October and over 400 layoffs are predicted.

Gregory Floyd, president of Local 237 of the Teamsters, has called upon all of the unions to support an effort to avoid the loss of these jobs - and the inevitable resulting decline in maintenance that would result.

Our union will support the fight to save the New York City Housing Authority. There is likely to be a demonstration in support of the Housing Authority near City Hall next week. Details will be on next week’s newsline. This will be a very important demonstration and will likely occur after work, so our members in the downtown area should find it easy to attend.

Turning to exams, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services has released the preliminary answer key for the Associate Staff Analyst promotional exam given on May 5 and 6. It can be downloaded below.

ASA Exam Preliminary Answer Key

Candidates who requested to review their exam papers in order to file protests of specific exam questions have been scheduled for review sessions starting this week.

A few words about the review process and making a protest of specific exam questions. You can read DCAS's description of the protest procedure here and here. When you are called to the review session, you will be given the original exam questions and reference booklet. You will have up to 5 hours to look over the questions, determine which of them you wish to protest, and to write your protest if you wish. You may make your protests right then and there at the review session or within 30 days.

You are not permitted to bring handwritten notes into the review session. You are permitted to bring reference materials. Don't forget to bring the letter you received notifying you of the place and time of the review session, photo ID, and a black pen. Given the nature of the exam, a calculator would be helpful but, as at the exam itself, alphanumeric or text-based devices and cell phones are not permitted.

It probably makes sense to make your protest at the review session (unless you have a great memory!), since you will not be able to take the questions, the reference booklet, or any notes you make during the review session with you.

In planning which questions to protest, you should compare the record of your answers with the preliminary key and determine those you got wrong. OSA's item analysis can help you to pick at least some of the questions to protest. A question in which you were joined in picking a wrong answer by a majority of the respondents to our item analysis is likely to be more fruitful to protest than one in which you were one of only a handful of people who picked a given wrong answer.

Of course, this is of value if there are questions related to judgment – and there often are. If a question is a matter of fact, it does not matter if most candidates picked the wrong answer, they are just wrong.

Your protest should be justifiable and reasonable. It is not sufficient simply to say a given answer is the right answer. State why the answer that you believe is correct is as good as or better than the answer in the proposed key. You might want to explain any phrasing in the question that was confusing or misleading.

On the preliminary key for the main Saturday exam, there were six questions where DCAS's answer is different from the leading answer in OSA's item analysis. We believe that, in addition to whatever other questions you choose to protest, these six questions may be particularly productive for review and protest. On question #7, DCAS's answer was B while the leading answer in the item analysis was C at 42%. On question 17, the preliminary key answer is D while 54% of item analysis respondents picked C. On question 34, the City's answer is C, but 68% of item analysis respondents picked A. On question 41, the answer is A, but 46% of our sample picked B. Question 48 shows C as the correct answer, but 41% of respondents picked B. Finally, on question 57, DCAS says it's "C" while 63% of our respondents said B.

On the Sunday sabbath observer exam, the questions most likely to be productive for protest appear to be numbers 10, 16, 27, 29, 44, 60, 61, 79 and 80.

Finally, last week, OSA was one of seventeen union locals singled out for honor by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) for our work within the 90 Church Street Labor Coalition.

90 Church Street is a 15 story 1930's era office tower and post office directly across from Ground Zero, housing more than 2500 federal, state and city employees. The building was massively contaminated on 9/11 with a range of toxic substances. Unions of returning federal and city workers joined with unions of newly-arriving state workers in an unprecedented health and safety organizing campaign. It took a two year effort with rallies, press outreach, a petition drive, mass leafleting of workers and visitors and labor-management meetings before all floors in the building had much higher than standard air filtration, a regular program of air testing for particulates and toxic substances and well-sealed interior windows behind all of the several hundred existing leaky exterior windows.

The NYCOSH award noted that the Coalition “successfully fought to ensure their once-contaminated workplace is safe and healthful and is protected from hazardous contamination in the future.”

OSA Vice-Chair Tom Anderson, staffer Rob Spencer and OSA’s Chapter Chair at the NYC Housing Authority Tony Lee, were on hand to receive the award, along with rank and file activists and local union leaders of many of the other Coalition unions, which included a number of AFSCME locals, Teamsters Local 237, CWA 1180, several divisions and locals of state workers in the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation and postal workers in the Mailhandlers, Letter Carriers and Postal Workers unions. OSA was proud to play a significant role within the Coalition.