Written by Master Chief Petty Officer Keith Alholm.
Force Readiness Command has revised the process for obtaining waivers of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test scores to attend A-school. Change-1 to the Performance Training and Education Manual, CIM 1500.10c, released earlier this week, also clarifies the criteria and procedures for granting and approving waivers.
Commanding Officers and officers-in-charge may waive up to five points of the total of two or more ASVAB subtest scores to qualify a member for A-school. However, they cannot grant a waiver for a minimum subtest score if required by the rating. For example a CO could grant up to five points of the combined subtest score total of 207 (VE+MK+GS+AR subtest scores) to qualify a member to attend Health Services Technician A-school. But, HS also requires a minimum AR subtest score of 50 which cannot be waived by the CO/OIC. In this case the member can either retest to obtain a higher ASVAB score or apply for a waiver from FORCECOM Training Division. Any waivers beyond the authority of the CO/OIC must be approved by FC-T. All Rating minimum scores are listed in Appendix 3 of the Performance Training and Education Manual. “
The policy is essentially the same, but we clarified the language to reduce confusion and ensure even application across the fleet,” said Captain Gary Bruce, hief of Training Division at Force Readiness Command.
These changes were initiated as a result of feedback from the field and rating force master chiefs.
“We identified a lot of confusion surrounding ASVAB waivers and how to process them, which may have resulted in delayed placement onto A-school lists,” said Bruce.
FC-T identified some instances where the waiver process was not being applied equally and fairly. Misinterpretation of the policy has also resulted in people who were unqualified being placed onto A-school and Striker lists, while otherwise qualified people were delayed placement onto a list due to misinterpretation of the policy. The mistakes were corrected but it may have resulted in delayed placement onto A-school lists and disenfranchised members.
The procedure for requesting a waiver beyond the five points has also changed slightly. Waiver requests requiring FC-T approval must be submitted in Coast Guard memorandum format through the member’s chain of command to FORCECOM (FC-T). The waivers are evaluated on individual merit. The needs of the service will always take precedence in these cases and members should not assume the request will be approved. All waivers are reviewed by FORCECOM Training, Enlisted Professional Development branch first, and then sent to the respective rating force master chief before final review by FC-T
“The rating force master chief’s recommendation is a primary consideration when determining when to approve or reject a waiver,” said Bruce.
Like the other services, the Coast Guard uses the ASVAB to predict future academic and occupational success in the military. The ASVAB subtest scores are based on analysis of the academic rigors of the A-school course curriculums. They attempt to predict an individual’s academic performance in different A-school subject areas. A low ASVAB score usually indicates the member may struggle with particular parts of the course and may also have trouble progressing in that rating throughout their career.
“Since 1974 the ASVAB has been an effective tool for classification within the military,” said Bruce. “But in some instances, there may be mitigating factors that support granting a waiver for a potential A-school candidate.”
The command endorsement should contain any mitigating factors such as previous academic performance, demonstrated proficiency in obtaining unit qualifications or prior work experience related to the rating.