The Washington State Department of Agriculture plans to scrap paper tests and adopt online testing for pesticide applicators. The computer tests will be more convenient and prevent cheating, but will cost more to take, according to the department.
The department administered more than 10,000 tests last year to applicators, exterminators and pesticide dealers. The tests cost an average of $13 to take. The department would need to increase the per-test fee to $55 to $65 to pay for computer testing, according to departments records. The department collected about $135,000 in fees in 2017 and estimates needing approximately $540,000 annually to pay a company to develop, administer and score electronic tests.
Tests would be offered at more places and more often, and results will be available sooner. The department has fined test-takers for cheating on paper tests, another factor in the department’s determination to move testing online.
The department recently filed a notice alerting the public that it plans to release a detailed proposal soon.
The department administers 33 different tests on pesticides. More than 28,000 people hold some type of department-issued pesticide license.
The department currently offers weekly testing sessions in Olympia and Yakima, as well as monthly sessions in Everett, Spokane, East Wenatchee and Moses Lake. Sessions are occasionally held in Longview. Test-takers must wait up to 10 days for results, according to the department.
With online testing, the results will be available immediately. The department would hope to add testing sites in at least the Tri-Cities, Pierce and King counties, as well as Skagit or Whatcom counties and Clark or Cowlitz counties, according to a department spokesman.
A testing session currently costs $25, though applicants can take as many as four tests per session.
The department revoked pesticide licenses from four men in May for cheating on tests. The four men admitted to copying answers. They were given the chance to re-take the test, but none passed, according to department records.
In March, the department revoked the licenses of three men who removed exams from the Yakima testing center.
Cheating is not the prime reason for switching to online tests, but it is a consideration, the department spokesman said.