Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Standards Council Canada stops certification

Standards Council Canada announced in January that it will stop certifying management systems training providers. Interestingly the existing certificates will no longer be recognized.

Where does this leave the companies that have existing certifications and will they be reimbursed their certification fees? Will these companies will flip to RABQSA certification? What happens in the meantime?

Presumably this happened due to the low number of SCC certified training providers. This now means that there is no Canadian accreditation program for management system training providers. With the National Quality Institute (NQI) and RABQSA parting ways in 2006 the only option Canadian companies have left is to so south of the border or into Europe.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2007-01-17 (full article copied - link here)

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) announced the discontinuation of its accreditation program for management systems auditor training course providers. Effective immediately, certificates issued under the program will no longer be recognized.

For additional information contact Stephen Cross, Manager, Certification Body Accreditation at scross@scc.ca.

The Standards Council of Canada is a Crown corporation with the mandate to promote efficient and effective standardization in Canada. It facilitates the development and use of national and international standards and offers accreditation services with the goal of enhancing Canada’s economic competitiveness and social well-being. For more information, visit http://www.scc-ccn.ca/ or email info@scc.ca.

Monday, June 18, 2007

ANSI to improve quality of US workforce

Hot off the press, ANSI has just announced its intent to launch an accreditation program for the organizations that issue demand-based education and training certificates to U.S. workers.

One interesting point brought up in the article is the exponentially growing number of certificates that can be obtained over the internet with absolutely no requirement for training is growing rapidly.

Will this be the beginning of a national registered database of "legitimate" certifications and educational providers?

New ANSI Accreditation Program to Improve Quality of U.S. Workforce
American National Standards Institute

In response to calls from government and industry for a national system to better protect the public from under-qualified or unqualified workers, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced its intent to launch an accreditation program for the organizations that issue demand-based education and training certificates to U.S. workers.

Certificates indicate that an individual has attended a course, passed a test or reached a specific standard of knowledge; they are typically issued by community colleges and universities, employers, independent for- profit education programs, and professional and trade associations.

A recognized leader in the accreditation of third party programs, ANSI will partner with educators, industry and government experts to develop the standards of quality and procedural requirements upon which the new accreditation program will be based...

Multiple choice testing a fraud?

Al Feldzamen sparks a whole bunch of controversy with a post on his "unexpected truths" blog, the "fallacy of hard tests".

The premise is that the harder the MC test the unfairer it is. Even with a couple of mistakes in the math, the post was controversial enough to raise a whole lot of debate around the effectiveness of MC testing.

From my perspective maybe we should be asking the question "is MC testing the way to go full stop?" With its emphasis only on knowledge, and with known issues around MC testing methodologies (a lot of which are highlighted in the blog post comments) is this approach good enough for the support of personnel certification programs?

I personally have recruited a few "certified" professionals (certification to remain nameless) over the last few years. To be honest they didn't know which way was up. They might have had the body of knowledge but it's application in the workplace was poor to non-existent. A complete waste of my time, $$ and the reputation of the professional organization down more than a few notches.

But what are the alternatives? Existing skills and competency based testing is expensive and inconsistent. What other tools and techniques are people looking to for the examination and testing of their employees and professionals?

Unexpected Truths: The fallacy of hard tests

... (continued from beginning of blog post)

“Was it all multiple choice?” I asked. “And how did they grade it?” I was thinking of my own exams. “Did they count only the right answers.?”When he said Yes to all the questions questions, I did not have the heart to tell him what I knew as a mathematical certainty—that the exam was, like most graduate medical exams, and large parts of legal licensing bar exams in most states , virtually a complete fraud.

The reason these tests are fraudulent—and the harder they are, the more they are fraudulent—is that for an extremely difficult test graded in that way, guessing tends to count much more than knowledge... more

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Oil and Gas Industry - appreciating certification

Suzy Jamieson has hit the nail on the head with this well thought out article on the benefits of certification in the oil and gas industry. I specifically like the emphasis on the values of certification to the different parties, e.g. the employee, the employer etc.

Realizing the Benefits of Certification

Suzy Jamieson
By now, certification is common across a broad range of professions. Quality certification programs provide standards and guidelines for professional recognition. While certification is not a license to practice in our industry as is the case with health professionals, accountants and others, it does provide a multitude of benefits... more

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Increase in certifications, decrease in testing professionals

A great article from the NY times (albeit published in 2006) on the increasing demand that industry is placing on certification and the relative decrease in experts that are able to deliver certification programs (in this article specifically psychometric professionals).

Will this drive the certification industry to hire more professionals or to look for alternative methods for effective competency based assessment and certification?

As Test-Taking Grows, Test-Makers Grow Rarer

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN (New York Times, (http://www.nytimes.com/)

Sz-Shyan Wu is not a Cuban baseball star or a dissident musician. But in urging the United States government to
grant him a work visa, the New York State Education Department is arguing that Mr. Wu, too, has talents so rare
that bureaucracy must be cut and a red carpet rolled out.
Mr. Wu is a psychometrician or, in plain English, an expert on testing. And testing experts are in high demand... more

Friday, June 1, 2007

Raising the Quality of Certifying Organizations

A fantastic article by Mickie S Rops from his blog Association Knowledge and Credentialing on the impact that ISO 17024 could have on the certification industry if widely adopted by certifying organizations.

Raising the Quality of Certifying Organizations

I just concluded a week-long training to become qualified as an assessor for ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation under the ISO/IEC 17024:2003 general requirements
for bodies operating certification of persons. How easily that phrase just came without having to reflect upon it is some indication of how thorough and intensive the training (and of course a concluding assessment) was!

For those not familiar with the program, let me summarize by saying that 17024 is an internationally-adopted (through ISO) and American-adopted (through ANSI/ASTM) voluntary standard for organizations operating programs that certify individuals (not products or organizations).

Let me just say that if all certifying agencies sought to achieve the requirements set out in 17024 the certifying industry would be a lot stronger for it... for more click here

Easy reference for ISO 17024

Hopefully this will be the first of a few helpful posts around the subject of ISO17024 (General Requirements for Bodies operating Certification of Persons).

What it ISO17024?

Released in 2003, ISO 17024 is designed to harmonize the personnel certification process worldwide. There is still much debate as to the effectiveness of the standard to date, especially with the variability in how it is applied by Accreditation Bodies globally.

The issues that ISO 17024 tackles can be simply summarized:
- Defining what it is you are examine (the competencies)
- Knowledge, skills and personal attributes
- Examination must be independent
- Examination must be a valid test of competence

Where competency is typically described as:
”The demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attributes”


Each Accreditation body provides various levels of guidance around compliance and the implementation of ISO 17024. I have attempted to bring together the more in-depth references below:

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Overview of Personnel Certification
Documents related to accreditation under ISO 17024
ISO 17024 FAQ
Directory of Accredited Bodies

Standards Council Canada (SCC)
Overview of Personnel Certification
Criteria and Procedures
Directory of Accredited Clients

Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAZ-ANZ)
Personnel Certification Homepage

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)
Certification Body Schedules

International Accreditation Forum (IAF)
ISO 17024 Guidance

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Link to ISO 17024