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Accreditation of Certification Programs

All the psychometric requirements laid out by certification accreditation standards like NCCA and ISO 17024 can seem overwhelming – we are here to not only help you achieve these, but empower your organization to grow your program.

What is Accreditation of a Certification Program?

The words Certification and Accreditation might seem like they refer to the same thing, but in the assessment world, they are quite different.  Certification refers to the process of attesting to the skill of a professional, like taking an exam to be certified as an accountant.  Accreditation is the process of attesting that a program or entire organization meets certain quality standards.  So here, we are putting a stamp of approval on a certification program that it is accredited to be high quality.  The two primary organizations that do this are NCCA and ANSI.

accreditation team

What does Accreditation evaluate?

Certification And Licensure Testing

Test Development

Of course, the exam itself must be good quality. You can't just write 50 items in your basement, throw it up on an LMS, and call it a certification exam. Scroll down for more information on test development.

Organization & Governance

Most importantly: is there a firewall between the Education and Certification parts of the organization? Also, be prepared to provide bylaws, audited financial statements, and much mroe.

Certification Policies and Documentation

Do you have a Candidate Handbook? What is your retake policy? Recertification after a year? Appeals? Eligibility pathways to take the exam in the first place?

Essential Steps in Test Development for an Accredited Certification Exam

Job Analysis

You need a defensible way to define what your test will even cover. This starts with a job analysis. A committee of subject matter experts (SMEs), will generate a list of tasks in the profession, then we obtain quantitative data from incumbents on which tasks are most frequent and important. This data is invaluable.

Test Blueprints

We then convert the job analysis results into a blueprint for the exam. You’ve seen those… 16% from Domain 1, 22% from Domain 2, etc. But these numbers aren’t just arbitrary – they will be defined by our data on what tasks or knowledge is most important and frequent for the profession.

Item Writing

A high quality item is the basic building block of any exam. You’ll need to train your writers, have them write items, then put the items through a QA workflow – and be able to document this all for Accreditation.

Standard Setting

Your exam needs a cutscore that defines who passes and fails. If you simply pick a round number like 70% with no justification, you are in for a heap of trouble. You’ll need a panel of SME to complete what is known as a modified-Angoff study, or similar approach, to provide a cutscore with extensive quantitative data loaded with SME expertise.

Statistical Reports

All exam forms need a comprehensive statistical report done to check on the quality of every single item. Moreover, you are required to submit summary reports every single year. This work requires a PhD psychometrician – or software designed to automate one.