This post is written by NOCTI, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.
NOCTI has served the CTE community as a non-profit entity for over 50 years. Our services and processes have continued to evolve over these five decades and we have learned a few key things about quality during this evolution process—particularly about quality factors associated with standards and credential development. Recent estimates indicate there are over 4,000 industry credentials and roughly 2,000 licenses available for possible utilization in CTE programs. Even if these totals only numbered in the thousands, it would be difficult to determine what credentials should be used for students. In order to help understand the terminology, we wanted to provide some standard definitions which are key components of initiatives in which we are heavily engaged.
NOCTI is currently involved with the Credential Engine (formerly the Credentialing Transparency Initiative sponsored by Lumina and JP Morgan), GEMEnA (an interagency working group that is focused on changing the US Census to collect credentialing information), The Association of Test Publishers, and the Digital Badge Alliance, all of which have connections to the world of credentials.
- Certificate: A credential that designates requisite mastery of the knowledge and skills of an occupation, profession, or academic program.
- Certification: A time-limited, renewable non-degree credential awarded by an authoritative body to an individual or organization for demonstrating the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job.
- Credential: A verification of qualification or competency issued to an individual by a third party with the relevant authority or jurisdiction to issue such verification.
- License: A credential awarded by a government agency that constitutes legal authority to do a specific job and/or utilize a specific item, system or infrastructure; typically fee based and time-limited with opportunities for periodic renewal.
- Open Digital Badge: A digital verification designed to be displayed as verification of accomplishment, activity, achievement, skill, interest, association, or identity and containing verifiable claims in accordance with accepted specifications.
- Quality Assurance: A document assuring that an organization, program, or awarded credential meets prescribed requirements of accrediting bodies, typically ISO 17.024 (e.g., ICAC).
Many states are engaged in processes related to credential approval and assembling state-approved lists of both credentials and credential providers. Career and technical educators speak the language of education and industry by nature of the occupation, but in most cases, these individuals are educators first. Educators must be mindful of quality indicators and find ways to ask more questions of credential providers, rather than those that only relate to the utilization of a particular credential in a specific sector. Here are five key questions to consider asking of credential providers to assist in determining quality.
Five Key Questions:
- Is there curricular alignment to the credential being selected? Typically, technical curriculum is part of a program of study and is based on accepted national standards so ensuring the selected credential accurately measures the curricular content is an important linkage.
- Is there a publicly available technical manual? The technical manual includes things like the structure and size of the validation population, the qualifications of the content experts, and the revision dates. Information presented in a technical manual is critical to the quality of the assessment upon which the credential is based.
- Is the provider accredited under accepted standards? ISO 17.024 is the international standard for providers that deliver credentials and certificates. Making sure a credential provider is aware of these standards and verifying the credential provider was evaluated by a third party to validate their adherence to the standards is an essential step.
- Is learner outcome data provided to assist with instructional improvement? Feedback data provided at the standard and competency levels is extremely helpful to educators in making curricular and instructional improvements.
- Does the provider offer “value adds”? Asking questions about available administration accommodations, report options that include integrated academics, college credit, and digital badge opportunities are important value adds for students.
NOCTI’s response to each of these questions is a resounding “yes!” Can your other credential providers answer the same? Taking a moment to ask these simple questions can help ensure that you are using a reliable and valid quality credential for your students. Interested in knowing more about what NOCTI can do for your state? Seek us out at the upcoming Advance CTE spring meeting where we are pleased to be a GOLD sponsor! You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more specific questions about how we can assist your state with a customized solution.