The ATA Chronicle - July/August 2020 - 12

CERTIFICATION STATEMENT

BY LENORA G. KNAPP
It is advisable to permit multiple
routes to achieving eligibility, wherever
appropriate (e.g., additional years of
work experience accepted in lieu of an
academic degree).

Certification Consultant's
Statement on the Membership
Requirement for ATA Certification

A

TA engaged Knapp & Associates
International in April 2020 to
prepare an opinion on whether
its history of requiring membership as
a condition of eligibility for certification
is consistent with current practices
and quality standards for professional
certification programs. The following
provides an overview of fundamental
concepts related to this topic,
followed by our impressions of the
membership requirement.

OVERVIEW OF PERTINENT CONCEPTS
General Guidelines for
Eligibility Criteria
Eligibility requirements are as
critical to the credentialing process as
the examination itself. The eligibility
requirements and examination comprise
a credentialing system. Eligibility
criteria should:
12

The ATA Chronicle | July/August 2020

■	

Be consistent with the scope and level
of practice (e.g., entry-level, advanced)
targeted by the credential.

■	

Be directly linked to the ability
to competently perform the
responsibilities of the role targeted
by the credential (i.e., essential to
acquiring the necessary knowledge
and skills).

■	

Not be used to limit the number
of applicants or to exclude
qualified candidates.

■	

Be reasonable and minimally stringent.

■	

Be balanced-the criteria should not
exclude qualified individuals, nor
should they be such that unqualified
individuals can earn the credential
simply by passing the exam.

There should be a documented
rationale for each requirement.

Quality Standards for Professional
Certification Programs
Standards within the certification
industry set the baseline for what is
expected of a quality certification program
that is fair, psychometrically sound, and
legally defensible. These standards are
also the basis for the accreditation of
professional certification programs.
In "Standard 7: Program Policies"
of the Standards for the Accreditation of
Certification Programs, published in 2016
by the National Commission for Certifying
Agencies (NCCA), one of the Essential
Elements states: "The certification
program must not unreasonably limit
access to certification."1
Additionally, there are the following
references to eligibility requirements in
the glossary of the NCCA Standards:
■	

Bias: Regardless of context (see
below) and lack of intent, bias is to be
avoided. In the context of eligibility
and recertification requirements:
avoid inappropriateness or irrelevance
of requirements for certification or
recertification if they are not reasonable
prerequisites for competence in a
profession, occupation, role, skill, or
specialty area. (See Fairness below.)

■	

Eligibility Requirements: Published
criteria, often benchmarks for education,
training, and experience, with which
applicants must demonstrate compliance
to qualify for certification.

■	

Fairness: The principle that all
applicants and candidates will be
treated in an equitable and consistent
manner throughout the entire
certification process. (See Bias above.)

Certification Law
In the chapter on certification law
in Certification: The ICE Handbook,
credentialing law experts Jerald Jacobs, Julia
Judish, and Dawn Crowell Murphy explain
that requiring association membership
could constitute an illegal tying arrangement
in violation of antitrust laws.
www.atanet.org


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The ATA Chronicle - July/August 2020

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