Recertification (sometimes called maintenance of credential or renewal of credential) practices have been around for about as long as certification has. However, at this time, we as an industry have not developed best practices or a shared understanding of recertification the same way we have done for countless other aspects of the certification process.
Historically, the most common recertification activities include continuing education, re-assessment, and self-assessment – probably in that order. However, pressure from certificants, employers, and consumers are forcing the credentialing community to re-evaluate their processes and perspectives on the matter. Indeed, recertification is increasingly seen as a way to add value to credential holders and help guide them in their career progression, rather than what is often characterized as a tedious but necessary exercise.
Related: The Importance of Recertification
This year, I had the pleasure to present two sessions at the ATP Innovations in Testing conference in Orlando on this very topic. Here are a few key things I took away from the conference:
Re-assessment is a desirable option for certifying bodies but not so popular with candidates. Of course, a psychometrician will tell you that an assessment will provide a higher level of assurance than continuing education. However, requiring credential-holders to be re-assessed does little for complaints that recertification is too onerous. There is also the cost of creating and maintaining these assessments. Nevertheless, there are those who expect a level of competency assurance that can only be verified with an assessment - a model that evaluates the risk posed by incompetent practice may suggest that recertification requirements appear to be gaining traction.
The type of recertification assessment depends completely on what inference you are trying to make. There are those who think that a recertification assessment must be identical to the initial certification because the purpose is to ensure continued competence at exactly the same level of competence as initial certification. Others think that a recertification assessment must be completely different from the initial certification because credential-holders’ competencies and work activities are expected to change (e.g., someone with more experience is expected to specialize). I’m afraid the answer is that it depends – and there is room for solutions that are in-between. Whatever the case, the solution should match the intent.
Continuing education (CE) may not be perfect but it seems to serve a useful purpose in most programs. It is not hard to find a cynical take on CE requirements, with critics calling it an exercise in paperwork that doesn’t actually ensure any learning took place. Worse still, some argue the process to approve CE providers is an opportunity to restrict access to recertification. All that said, the prevailing opinion seems to be that CEs are still the primary method of ensuring that credential-holders continue to engage with their profession. CEs can be a valuable opportunity (and/or excuse) for practitioners to connect with colleagues and new ideas.
Recertification can take on many forms and serve different purposes – and that’s okay. Even in the time spent working on the two sessions at the 2019 ATP Innovations in Testing conference, recertification has already showed signs of change. More innovative ideas of MOC activities are being implemented, especially in the medical field and other areas where traditional recertification practices were being challenged. Stakeholders are asking for new approaches to address changing expectations. To get closer to a shared understanding of purpose and utility of recertification, we need to think about how recertification can further the goals of credentialing and how new methods can help us achieve those goals even more effectively.
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