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May/June 2009
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Certificate Programs

ASTM International has published a new American National Standard, ASTM E2659, Practice for Certificate Programs. This standard provides much-needed guidance to certificate issuers on how to develop a quality certificate program and to consumers on how to identify such a program. In addition, the standard is designed to serve as the benchmark of quality for industry accreditation of certificate programs.

According to Mickie Rops, Mickie Rops Consulting Inc., and technical lead on the new standard, prior to the development of E2659 there was no industry consensus for what a quality certificate program entailed. Certificate program was a term often inaccurately used to refer to any type of training program that issued a certificate at the end. ASTM E2659 for the first time clearly delineates the outcomes-focus of certificate programs. “This move from a theoretical to a practical model of outcomes-based learning will significantly enhance the quality and impact of training overall,” says Rops.

In addition, E2659 outlines the key distinguishing factors between certification and certificate programs. The confusion between certification and certificate programs often leads organizations to develop hybrids of the two models that include both a learning component (a core design element of certificate programs) and ongoing competency requirements (a core design element of certification).

ASTM E2659 will help organizations make an informed judgment about which program type to develop and, should they choose to develop a certificate program, provide guidance on how to do so. Says Rops, “With the distinctions between certification and certificate programs made clear, there will be fewer hybrid programs created, which will significantly lessen the confusion of all stakeholders involved.”

ASTM E2659 provides a clear and comprehensive guide for educators in all sectors and settings to consistently develop and administer certificate programs that will accomplish their unique training and education goals. The standard will be useful to certificate issuers such as community colleges and universities, government agencies, employers, independent for-profit training organizations and professional and trade associations. Consumers and employers will find E2659 helpful in determining the quality of certificate programs.

The new standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E36.30 on Personnel Certificate Programs, part of Committee E36 on Laboratory and Inspection Agency Accreditation. Subcommittee E36.30 welcomes all interested parties to participate in future revisions of E2659, as well its other standards developing activities.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Mickie Rops, Mickie Rops Consulting Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

Phone: 317-810-0013

ASTM Staff: Rick Lake

Phone: 610-832-9689