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Chief Petty Officers Adapt to Virtual Advancement Examination Readiness Reviews, Prepare For Return to Normalcy

26 April 2021

From Cheryl Dengler, Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center

During the global pandemic, select chief petty officers from around the globe adapted to a virtual process of reviewing and developing Navywide advancement examinations—though a return to normalcy is on the horizon.
PENSACOLA, Fla.— During the global pandemic, select chief petty officers from around the globe adapted to a virtual process of reviewing and developing Navywide advancement examinations—though a return to normalcy is on the horizon.
Customarily held in Pensacola, Florida, Advancement Exam Readiness Reviews (AERRs) bring together fleet subject matter experts (FSMEs) consisting of chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs from fleet and shore-based commands to review and develop the rating examination material from which enlisted advancement exams are created.
Like other businesses and organizations in the past year, the Navy Advancement Center (NAC) adapted in-person essential events to a fully virtual format to counter the COVID-19 threat. 
“The virtual Advancement Exam Readiness Review (AERR) process has allowed us to continue to produce valid and current enlisted advancement exams,” said Marionette Marks, an exam development branch head. “We are able to use the expertise and experience of FSMEs to accomplish small chunks of the enlisted advancement exam process in order to continue meeting the promotion goals needed to support fleet readiness.”
The Master-at-Arms (MA) AERR, held virtually in April 2021, allowed E-7 through E-9 FSMEs selected by the rating sponsor to successfully update examination materials for the MA rating.
“At first I was apprehensive to take on such a daunting task through virtual collaboration, but it worked quite well,” said Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Christopher Butler. “Of course, nothing can replace the face-to-face interaction and networking that comes with this type of event, but we still had a great time with it and more importantly, got the job done so our rate has relevant, accurate and challenging advancement exams.”
Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Colt Ward believes the AERR was a gratifying experience for many reasons.
“Being a part of the advancement exam development is a rewarding experience,” said Ward. “You get to provide direct input to your future reliefs, ensuring they are asked the relevant questions for their rate, while keeping abreast on the updates to publications.”
NAC hopes to return to some degree of normal AERR operations in the coming months as health protection measures improve and more FMSEs get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“While the virtual process has enabled Navy Advancement Center the ability to meet the immediate needs of our rating exams, the face-to-face AERR just can’t be beat in providing the rating’s FSMEs the forum to come together as a professional team, consulting each other on a grand scale regarding each rating’s occupational material,” said Patti Gibson, exam development division head. “We look forward to hosting AERRs again, with an initial goal of prioritizing those ratings that were not able to fully leverage the virtual process.”
Once selected, FSMEs will participate in an AERR for one or two weeks.  AERR work includes validating exam reference materials, reviewing questions and their statistical outcomes from recent exam administrations, writing new questions to keep exam banks current and relevant, as well as planning content to reflect the right combination of questions at each paygrade, covering all topics and subtopics as specified in the rating occupational standards.
Navy chiefs on active duty, full-time support, and Reservists on active duty for special work are encouraged to take part in the process by reaching out to their respective type commander (TYCOM) or rating sponsor point of contact (POC) for application information.
A list of these POCs, along with an annual AERR schedule and eligibility requirements are located on the AERR webpage on MyNavy Portal.  Senior enlisted personnel interested in applying should go to:​.
As part of the MyNavy HR Force Development team, Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center (NETPDC) provides products and services that enable and enhance education, training, career development and personnel advancement throughout the Navy. Primary elements of the command include the voluntary education department, the NAC and the resources management department.

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