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Recent Blog Posts

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.

Does Livestreaming Have a Place in Certification Programs?

April 17, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

In March a livestreaming video platform by the name of Meerkat exploded at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, just two weeks after its initial launch. Shortly after Meerkat’s SXSW debut, Periscope, another live video streaming app recently acquired by Twitter, made a grab for the spotlight. As these new platforms for learning evolve we must ask ourselves, does livestreaming play a role in certification programs? We believe they can.

The Role Error Plays in Candidates’ Scores

April 8, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

A candidate’s observed score can be broken down into two components: their true score and an error component. The error component of observed scores can be further split into two types, random and systematic.  Random errors of measurement affect candidates’ scores purely by chance, such as the room temperature where a candidate is testing, the candidate’s anxiety level or misreading a question. However, systematic errors of measurement are factors that consistently impact a candidate’s scores.  For example, when measuring a candidate’s math skill level through word problems, the candidate’s reading level could have an impact on their scores.  If the same test on math ability was administered over and over again to the same candidate under the same conditions this error would continue to be exhibited. 

Transitioning an Exam Program in the Modern Age

April 1, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

Transitioning an exam program from paper to computer-based administrations may appear to be a very straightforward process but there are a variety of variables to consider when a sponsor is making this decision.

Five Key Tenets for Governing Certification Boards

March 25, 2015  | By  | Leave a comment

Governing a certification board takes a special set of skills members of your certification board may not be familiar with, or even experienced in leadership positions they’ve held.  Often members of the certification board come from the profession and may have held leadership positions within related associations and societies—this is great exposure.  But while they may understand the dynamics of their profession, even those with experience serving on boards will benefit from having their responsibilities described in the particular context of certification.  Consider orienting your certification leadership to these key tenets in governing certification programs before their service begins (frequent reminders are also a good idea!)