Navy cancels active/FTS E4 Exam, sets schedule for finishing advancement cycles

NORFOLK (March 3, 2020) Sailors participate in the Navy-wide Advancement Exam on the mess decks aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in Norfolk, Virginia, March 5, 2020. The John C. Stennis is partnering with Newport News Shipbuilding to complete Refueling Complex Overhaul on schedule with a trained, resilient and cohesive crew. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Taylor)
NORFOLK (March 3, 2020) Sailors participate in the Navy-wide Advancement Exam on the mess decks aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in Norfolk, Virginia, March 5, 2020. The John C. Stennis is partnering with Newport News Shipbuilding to complete Refueling Complex Overhaul on schedule with a trained, resilient and cohesive crew. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Taylor)

Navy cancels active/FTS E4 Exam, sets schedule for finishing advancement cycles

by Mark D. Faram
Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy has cleared the path to finishing the spring petty officer advancement cycles, while maintaining COVID-19 mitigation best practices with the release of NAVADMIN 121/20, on April 27.

As part of the Navy's initial COVID-19 mitigation response in March, the service temporarily shut down administering further E-4 through E-6 advancement exams for the Active Duty and Full-Time Support (FTS) Cycle 247 and Selected Reserve Cycle 106, hoping to resume testing in late May.

After evaluating multiple options, Navy leadership has decided to cancel Cycle 247 Active Duty and Full-Time Support E-4 advancement exams. Instead, advancements will be determined using a modification to the current advancement scoring formula. 

"Due to the large number of Sailors eligible to participate in this exam and the added difficulty of administering the exam to all of these Sailors while implementing Force Health Protection Guidance (FHPG) measures, to include adequate social distancing measures, Navy has determined that it is in the best interest and safety of our Sailors to not administer the E-4 exam," Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the Navy's top uniformed personnel official, wrote in the message. 

Roughly 20,000 E-3 Sailors across the Active Duty and FTS Navy were slated to sit for Cycle 247’s E-4 exam when Navy leaders postponed it in March due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Sailors normally take advancement exams in large groups, seated together on a ship's mess decks or in base gymnasiums. This makes it nearly impossible to enforce the physical distancing required to reduce virus transmission risk. 

Active and FTS Sailors who are eligible for advancement to E-4 will be ranked for advancement using the Final Multiple Score, the calculation just won’t include an individual exam score. 

This means the remaining factors of Performance Mark Average, Awards, Pass Not Advanced points, Service in Paygrade as well as Education will determine a Sailor's final score for this cycle. 

A Sailor’s PMA will account for 72 percent of the E-4 final multiple score. This means that for this cycle, a Sailor's on-the-job performance, as rated by their commands, will be the greatest factor in determining who advances.

Meanwhile, Navy leaders believe completing the remaining Active Duty and FTS E-5 and E-6 exams won't pose a social distancing problem as the number of test takers is low. Of the roughly 70,000 petty officers eligible for the two tests, 65,000 completed them before the COVID-19 mitigation efforts went into effect.

With only 5,000 make-up exams needed to be taken Navy-wide, leadership believes those remaining exams can be properly administered in small groups while adhering to FHPG measures and maintaining social distancing requirements. As a result, commands will have between May 21st and June 3 to proctor those remaining exams.

In the Selected Reserve, Navy officials estimate that over 80 percent of eligible Sailors completed their exams in February. Their remaining make-up exams will be administered during drill weekends in July.

Questions and concerns about this policy clarification can be answered by calling the MyNavy Career Center at 1-833-330-6622 or by email at AskMNCC@navy.mil.

The latest DoD policies can be found at: https://www.defense.gov/explore/spotlight/coronavirus.

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