ANSI Personnel Certification Accreditation Cited in Department of Defense Directive

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has been named the sole approved accreditor of certification bodies by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for its Information Assurance (IA) Workforce Improvement Program.

ANSI’s designation as the accreditor for the program is stated in revisions to a manual issued under the authority of DoD Directive 8570.1, Information Assurance Training, Certification, and Workforce Management. Originally published in 2004 and revised in April 2010, the manual provides guidance and procedures for the training, certification, and management of the DoD workforce conducting IA functions in assigned duty positions.

According to the manual, IA personnel must receive and maintain certification for the highest level functions that they perform related to data management, use, processing, storage, and transmission. Bodies issuing this certification must be accredited to the International Standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024, General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. The new revisions to the manual state that ANSI is the sole approved accreditor for these certification bodies.

More information here.

Certificate Program or Certification?

What's the difference?  Here's the table I often use to show the distinctions:


So, one of the key distinctions is that in certification, you may verify education/training received elsewhere (as an eligibility requirement), but you are not providing required training; you are assessing current knowledge and/or skill.  In a certificate program, in contrast, you ARE providing the required training/education and then assessing for the attainment of the intended learning outcomes of that training/education.  So, the focus of certification is on verifying past education and experiences and assessing current knowledge and skill.  In certificate programs, the focus is on providing the needed learning and assessing the attainment of it.

Also important, unlike certification (and more like a degree program), a certificate program does not have ongoing requirements and therefore cannot be revoked.  Once you receive a certificate, it's yours forever; there are no continuing education or re-examination requirements to maintain it.  However, certificate issuers should assign a term to the certificates in order to inform stakeholders of the currency and relevancy of any given certificate.   (Note, that if it is determined that the content of the certificate is unchanging, then the term may be indefinite.)  Consider, as an example the American Heart Association CPR certificate which has a term of 2 years.  There are no ongoing requirements to "maintain" the certificate, and it is never officially revoked.  But if you want or need a valid certificate,  you need to successfully accomplish the training/assessment again.

I'll cover designations more thoroughly another time, but the key point here is that both certification and certificate programs can issue designations and associated acronyms.  It is important, however, that certificate issuers that confer them do not state or imply the individuals are certified or licensed.  

Communicating the Value of Learning in Difficult Economic Times

ASTD has a free downloadable whitepaper on communicating the value of learning in difficult economic times.  It's written primarily from the perspective of corporate training; however, there are enough nuggets for the association educator to make it worthwhile to download and read the 24 pages.

On a similar note, join the ASAE & The Center's Professional Development Section to discuss "Providing Superior Programs in a Cruddy Economy" on Wednesday, June 3, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. This is a free, peer-to-peer learning discussion.  Advance registration is not needed; I'll post the call-in information when it is made available.

Intro to Computerized Adaptive Testing

If your certifying agency is considering computer adaptive testing, you might want to look into Assessment Systems Corporation's workshop on June 1 in Minneapolis.  The following topics will be covered:

  • Rationale and basic assumptions of IRT
  • Major IRT models and their parameters
  • Estimating the latent trait, Θ, and its standard error
  • Estimating item parameters
  • Item and test/bank information
  • Linking items to create an item bank for CAT
  • Basic elements of CAT
  • Types of CATs: CATs for equiprecise measurement, classification, measuring change
  • What to consider before implementing CAT
  • Implementing CAT
  • Operational issues for some CATs: item exposure, enemy items, content balancing

Learn more here.

New to Certification?

ASAE & The Center are hosting a virtual Credentialing Symposium October 27-30th.  The program is targeted to those considering developing a certification program or have a new or immature program.

It will be held online over four days via webinars, pre-recorded content and online chats, and you will have the opportunity to connect with fellow executives and get your questions answered by a group of experts in certification.  Some of the topics will include: the credentialing options (by yours truly), minimizing legal risk, marketing, industry quality standards, psychometrics in plain english, and trends in certification.

For more information and to register, click here.

Impact of Growth on Quality

Next panel up at the NOCA Credentialing Leadership Forum: Denise Fandel, Board of Certification; Lenora Knapp, Knapp Associates International; Chris Smith, LERN

They suggested the following as influences on the growth of credentialing (disclaimer:  more were discussed than listed here, but, hey, I just can't type that fast.)

  • Rapid pace of change in the workplace. Scope of knowledge and skills is more broad and the lifespan is shorter.
  • Greater recognition of certification by the public. 
  • Shift of the purpose of credentialing from just protection of the public to advancing the profession.  (I'm not sure I agree with this one.  This isn't a new shift.  Yes, healthcare credentialing has traditionally been focused on public protection, yet many other segments have had industry/profession-focused certification programs for decades.)
  • Greater need for skilled labor in other parts of the world, and the need for ways to identify them.
  • Technology is making it easier to develop certification programs, to market them, and for individuals to apply for them.
  • We are on the cusp of a strong demograhic shift.  Boomers leaving the workforce, and leaving a shortage of qualified workers.

Some implications of the growth of credentialing discussed were:

  • Prevalence of certification has made braindumps lucrative...and this is impacting the perceived value of certification.
  • Environment is becoming more competitive - from legitimate or non-legitimate (diploma mills) and outside of U.S. borders (other countries certifying U.S. individuals).
  • More informed consumers are asking more questions of us. They have more options.  They are demanding more. 
  • More competition plus more informed consumers means they are going to be asking for proof of what we are promising.
  • Perishable just-in-time credentials (developed quickly and disposed of when no longer needed) are being developed.

Chris focused on the impact of generational transitions and the fact that the Boomers are retiring and questioned whether we are prepared for this to happen.  What do the new generations look like?  What will they value?  He thinks ROI.  Chris stressed that we've got to start paying attention to the young population (Les Wallace indicated earlier that >1/2 of the population is <25 years old). So, Chris suggests we all get the younger generations involved.  I take a look around the room.  Some Gen Xers present (myself included) but I don't believe any Millenials were.  This has to change.  We can't keep talking about them; we need to include them in the discussions.

International Discussion

Here at the NOCA Credentialing Leadership Forum, Robert Pedigo from Castle Worldwide and Paul Grace from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy make the following points about the challenges of international credentialing:

America has a testing culture that differs from other parts of the world.  Europe, for example, has an established guild system and in general Europeans are not very trusting of a test's ability to verify knowledge and skills. 

Data privacy laws are very different elsewhere than in U.S. so operationalizing an international certifying system is challenging. 

Differing culture norms create additional challenges.  In some parts of the world it is not unethical to share test questions, for example.

Certification marks are challenging to control internationally. 

It's difficult to establish foreign equivalency of educational experiences.

Their key advice was to do your homework.  Talk with others who have navigated international credentialing with the same geographical region as you are investigating.  Also, be sure to get legal counsel experienced in international affairs. 

Interestingly, there was little to no discussion of the opportunities in international credentialing.  Assumed, perhaps?  

Building the Case for Your Credentialing Program

The Marble Institute of America recently launched an accreditation program for the natural stone industry, and according to Gary Distelhorst, CAE, Executive Vice President, over 100 companies have already made application for over 130 accreditations. I had the opportunity to work with Gary and his great MIA team of staff and leaders in the strategy and design of this important program.  Take a look at this video highlighting the program.  I think it does a great job building the case for the industry need for and value of the accreditation.  This is so important - organizations need to focus more on building the case and showing the real value of their credentialing programs (assuming there is an industry need and value - but that's a discussion for another day!)  I know I'll be looking for an accredited company to fabricate and install granite countertops in my new kitchen later this year.

New Standards for Technology-delivered Assessments

ISO/IEC has released a new international standard: ISO/IEC 23988:2007 Information technology - A code of practice for the use of information technology (IT) in the delivery of assessments.

The aims of the standard are to provide a means of:

  • showing that the delivery and scoring of the assessment are fair and do not disadvantage some groups of candidates, for example those who are not IT literate;
  • showing that a summative assessment has been conducted under secure conditions and is the authentic work of the candidate;
  • showing that the validity of the assessment is not compromised by IT delivery;
  • providing evidence of the security of the assessment, which can be presented to regulatory and funding organizations (including regulatory bodies in education and training, in industry or in financial services);
  • establishing a consistent approach to the regulations for delivery, which should be of benefit to assessment centers who deal with more than one assessment distributer;
  • giving an assurance of quality to purchasers of "off-the-shelf" assessment software.

The 39 page in-depth standard can be purchased and downloaded from the ANSI store.  All associations considering or offering computer- or internet-based testing (and all associated service providers/vendors) would benefit from a review of this informative standard which, by the way, applies to both low and high-stakes assessments.

Have You Always Done It That Way?

I know many of you have been following the posts over on the We've Always Done It That Way blog where my esteemed colleagues (Jeff De Cagna, C. David Gammel, CAE, Jamie Notter, Amy Smith) and I have been posting our thoughts on the things about associations we must change.  I'm happy to announce that we finally surpassed our goal of "101 things" and a book including them is being released at the ASAE & The Center's Boston meeting.  Of course you don't have to buy the book since the thoughts are all on the blog, but in usual fashion the blog posts are a bit "raw" while the book is a bit more refined, with a preface, intro, section organization, and index. 

We do not pretend that our 101 things list is comprehensive (in fact, we are continuing to post to the blog)  And, we do not expect everyone to agree with all the ideas.  Heck, I don't agree with everything in the book!  We simply want to get association executives thinking and talking about new ways of doing things.   Will you consider the possibilites?