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Recent Blog Posts

Calculating Your Investment Now and in the Future

July 8, 2015  | By  | 1 Comment

In a recent Internet search, I came across Professional Certifications: Can we Avoid Them? by Uganda-based consultant, Michael Niyitegeka. In this article, he suggests that in the wake of education commoditization, education qualifications have become “tradable goods,” forcing employers to find alternative avenues to gauge one’s competency above and beyond academic qualifications.  While we might share a different view about education, the point that certification plays a role in qualifying people for employment or takes over where education leaves off is worth examining and assigning a value to.  

Revision of the Standards: An advisory note on Subscore Reporting

July 1, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, AERA, & NCME, 2014) (Standards) was recently revised and updated.  As credentialing organizations begin to process what the revised version of the Standards means to them, it is important to point out most of the workplace testing and credentialing chapter remained the same.  However, statements about the need for reliable subscore reporting are of vast importance, as is the design of examination score reports. 

Computer Adaptive Testing: An Overview and Considerations

June 24, 2015  | By  | 1 Comment

Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) is a testing methodology that weds two processes—adaptive testing and computer administration—for efficient measurement and administration. When compared to fixed length exams delivered linearly on a computer, CAT exams measure a candidate’s ability with fewer delivered exam questions and higher precision. By precision, it is suggested that error is reduced and reliability is increased. 

The Multiple Response – Why, When, and How to Use this Item Type

June 17, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment


The multiple response (MR) item type is, hands-down, one of the most useful alternative item types available today.  It isn’t a new item type; the MR been used in paper-based assessments for many years (under various names, including multiple select, multiple-answer, multiple-choice, etc.). Now that the MR item type is provided as a standard option within many CBT applications, it is becoming a more popular option.

How to Develop a Certification Exam

June 5, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

The process for developing a certification exam has evolved over a number of years as more and different types of organizations seek to assess the competence of workers and to certify people. The certification exam is often at the center of this initiative and subject to the most scrutiny, so it’s important to start with a solid foundation and good planning.  For most professional certification programs, the steps for developing certification examinations include:  conducting a job/task analysis, developing an examination blueprint, writing and reviewing items, assembling and reviewing an initial exam form, conducting a pilot or beta test of that exam form, and establishing a passing score.

Diversifying Your Candidate Pool

May 27, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

The Census Bureau recently revealed that the 2050 tipping point, when the majority would become the minority and non-Hispanic whites would no longer account for more than 50% of U.S. inhabitants, may now occur as early as 2044. Yes, the landscape is shifting quickly and NOW is the time to make sure you’ve done your work to integrate multicultural marketing into your outreach efforts.

Where Micro-Credentials Fit into the Certification Landscape

May 13, 2015  | By  | 2 Comments

Many evolving forms of credentialing are clamoring for our attention these days—digital badges, alternative credentials, verified certificates, nano-degrees and micro-credentials.  But what are these forms of “credentialing” and how can they can complement and even enhance certification programs, you know, the traditional ones that assess competency and verify the skills and knowledge required to do a job or define the body of knowledge for a profession/occupation.  And how does a certification body assess if “alt creds” are right for them?  These are two aspects of a complex topic we as certification and test developers are talking about.   

Innovative Item Types: Strengths and Weakness

May 11, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

Do you have multiple choice items that are not accurately assessing the content of an exam?  If so you may want to implement innovative items.  In our workshop at the 2015 ATP Conference we presented four innovative item types, along with when each one should be used.

The key factor that should be considered before adding an innovative item type is whether it can improve the measurement quality of the exam.  The first step in implementing innovative items is choosing the right type.  To help guide your decision on which types to implement, it is helpful to have a general understanding of the structure, strengths, and weaknesses of each item type.

Careful Selection of Subject Matter Experts is the Key to a Successful JTA Meeting

April 29, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

A job/task analysis is (JTA) is a very close look at a job, portion of a job, or concept job in order to identify the tasks and associated knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) required to competently perform the job.  A JTA is the foundation for the development of a certification program or a certificate program.  Only after the KSAs have been identified can a certification body or educational program determine how to measure competence of the KSAs or how to teach the KSAs.  There are multiple methods for conducting a JTA including using focus groups, structured interviews, job shadowing and observations, and surveying practitioners.  When conducting a JTA as the basis for a certification program, the method used is not as important as making sure the right subject-matter-experts (SMEs) participate in the process. 

Has Your Board Been Immunized?

April 21, 2015  | By  | 1 Comment

Occupational regulation has experienced a remarkable level of expansion over the past several decades and the public protection role of occupational regulation has generally been accepted as the logically justifiable rationale for its creation.

Indeed a large body of economic literature has shown that free markets for professional services may not produce efficient outcomes resulting from market failures of information asymmetries, natural monopolies and externalities that harm the public.

While common ground can be found in a market failure rationale for regulatory intervention, much of the regulatory power at the State level rests with occupational licensing boards, whose members consist of active participants in the profession being regulated. Licensing boards regularly meet to establish and maintain requirements for entry into hundreds of occupations. Scholarly research on the effects of this structure in occupational regulation have concluded that among its unwanted consequences is the creation of industry captured cartels, limiting competition and increasing costs to consumers, without a proportional welfare benefit in terms of quality or safety.