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.

Microsoft Achieves ANSI 17024 Accreditation

Microsoft recently received accreditation for conformance to the international standard ISO/IEC 17024 General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons by the American National Standards Institute for two of its IT certification programs.  The blog world is buzzing with the news since these are the first product-specific IT certifications accredited to the international standard and ANSI.  Lots of individual IT bloggers responded on their own blogs and the buzz is positive, with agreement that the third-party "stamp of approval" is a really good thing for both Microsoft and the individuals certified.

See the Microsoft blog announcement here.

Certificate Program or Certification?

I spent last week in DC training ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program assessors and accreditation committee members on application of the ASTM E2659-09 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs.   After that 2 1/2 day intensive training, we then conducted a 3 hour training webconference for the organizations that have been accepted into the pilot being conducted this summer.  It was an exhausting but exhilarating week!  The talent convened to implement this program is incredible (a press release will be issued soon outlining the individuals and organizations involved). 

We had so many rich discussions that I can't possibly summarize them all here, but I will try to highlight some of the more important points.  A critical element (in fact the foundation of the training) was in ensuring everyone was clear on the distinction between certification programs and certificate programs.  The American National Standard, of course, provides the needed clarification.  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 attainment of the intended learning outcomes of that training/education.  So, the focus of certification is on the verifying past education and experiences and assessing current knowledge and skill.  In certificate programs, the focus is on providing the needed learning and evaluating 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 of validity 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 validity 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.  Programs that make this implication will not be in conformance with the standard/accreditation requirements.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have specific questions about the certificate program standard.

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?  

E-learning for E-learning Designers

The E-Learning Guild has some great online conferences upcoming!  Check them out here.

July 17 & 18 - Creating Innovative Instructional Content – Advanced Theory and Application

August 14 & 15 - Designing and Developing Faster, Cheaper, and Better e-Learning

September 18 & 19 - Implementing e-Learning 2.0 Technologies

November 20 & 21 - Designing and Managing Mobile Learning

December 11 & 12 - Building Engaging e-Learning Interactions

They have a 25% discount for non-profits.  And, if you have interest in multiple sessions, check out the membership options.  You can become a "member plus" (as I am) and have access to ALL online seminars (including archives of past sessions) for less than the cost of registering for two individual sessions!