RID Update On Testing & Certification Risk Assessment

There are many changes coming. This is the latest from Anna Witter-Merithew (Interim Executive Director RID)

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Hello. I am Anna Witter-Merithew, the Interim Executive Director of RID. December 15-20, the RID Board of Directors will be meeting on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The focus of their meeting will be on the Testing and Certification Risk Assessment prepared by the HQ staff and submitted on November 1st. This will be the first opportunity that the Board has had to meet face-to-face to deliberate and make decisions about this assessment.

The Testing and Certification Risk Assessment is one of three assessments prepared by the HQ staff for the RID Board of Directors to assist them in their planning and decision-making. The first was submitted in April and related to the NOLA 15 national conference. The second is the testing and certification assessment submitted November 1st, and the third relates to biennial conference and business meetings, which was submitted at the end of November. The focus of this vlog is the testing and certification risk assessment.

For several months I have been vlogging about the testing and certification risk assessment as part of our effort to keep members informed about what is being done on the association’s behalf, by who, and for what reasons.

In review…

One of the main purposes of the Testing and Certification Risk Assessment was to identify a range of vulnerabilities RID is facing in the following areas:

  • Administration
  • Fiscal
  • Governance
  • Legislative

The assessment looked at the level of severity of the risk—is it high, low, or medium? And, what is the implication of the risk for RID, both short- and long-term? Staff also determined possible countermeasures for reducing or eliminating the vulnerabilities that exist. We looked at what we could do, and what we cannot do. And, based on the work of a consultant in analyzing the business models used by 11 other professional testing and certifying entities, recommendations regarding possible business models were made. The goal is to move to a business model that will strengthen the viability and sustainability of the testing system.

The need for the testing and certification risk assessment arose from several things:

  • Continuing concerns about testing and certification expressed by the membership and/or stakeholders in the Association Survey conducted in Spring 2015. [Administered by the Transition Team in Spring 2015—members identified the testing system as their number one concern];
  • The Certification Committee’s Fiscal Year 2016 budgetary request for $260,000+ to engage in NAD-RID NIC upgrades and enhancements;
  • The Certification Committee’s plan to recommend that three of the certification exams be sunset due to age [OTC, CDI, SC:L];
  • The fiscal implications associated with developing three new tests [estimated cost of $650,000+ per exam];
  • The fiscal implications associated with these requests for test funding in light of the loss associated with the RID NOLA 15 national conference, resulting from an over-commitment to sleep rooms in the hotel contract [Total loss in sleep rooms $230,000];
  • Competing priorities before the association— Both the Ethical Practices System (EPS) and Certification Maintenance Program (CMP) are in significant need for training of volunteer leaders, adding new volunteer leaders, creating more efficient systems of operation, and administration.

The resource demands for all RID programs—and the Testing and Certification Program specifically—far exceed RID’s capacity, and has for years. RID HQ, as the part of our overall responsibility for operationalizing member and board decisions, had to step back, look at our programs and services as a whole, collect data and expertise, synthesize the findings, and make recommendations to the Board.

What did we learn from this process?

There exists a wide-range of interdependent factors that impact the administration/operation, funding, and governance of testing and certification. In other words, the issues are complex and interwoven. A solution to address one concern is insufficient unless it enables us to address the systemic issues as a whole. The cost of developing and implementing testing in accordance with industry standards is high and heavily dependent on external consultants/experts and vendors. The cost is the same if we develop tests for one candidate or tens of thousands of candidates. However, because our testing pool is small—by comparison to other professions—we will never be able to cover the cost. The test would simply be too cost-prohibitive if we attempted to require candidates to cover all the cost because the pool size is small.
RID has been losing money on certification exams for the past 15 years—approximately $150,000 per year. To cover these losses, funds for other programs and operations—like the EPS and CMP, building maintenance, among other needs—have been diverted and created significant delays and/or backlogs. RID has a responsibility to identify a business model that allows for the successful maintenance, viability, and sustainability of a testing and certification system, as well as its other programs. The continuing issues with funding of test development and maintenance put the entire system and the overall health of the association at risk.

A successful business model will require a broader partnership approach than has been used to date. The resources necessary to sustain testing and to create new tests to replace old versions that sunset exceed RID’s fiscal capacity and so, partnerships with shared responsibility must be forged.We have much we can learn from how other professions manage and implement testing and certification. The business models that have been proposed to the Board for consideration draw upon the expertise of 11 other practice professions and the approaches they have used successfully.
The risk assessment does not look at test design, content, or scoring. These are areas of expertise of the Certification Committee and related consultants/vendors.
The risk assessment, and any forthcoming decisions regarding it, does not impact any of RID’s recognized certifications. RID currently offers six different certifications—NIC; CDI; OTC; SC:L; CLIP:R; and Ed: K-12. As well, RID previously offered 12 credentials that it continues to recognize but no longer has mechanisms in place to assess, via examination or otherwise. This will not change as a result of anything recommended in the risk assessment. So, December 15-20, 2015, the Board will discuss and make decisions around the risk assessment. Due to the confidential nature of some of the financial and legal aspects of the risk assessment, their discussion will occur in closed session. As a part of this process, they will decide next steps and how to begin informing and engaging members in the process.

This concludes this update. Thank you for your attention.

NOTE: A report to the members highlighting the findings from the risk assessment is currently being prepared, and it is hoped it will be available on or before January 1, 2016. As well, the Board leadership will be vlogging prior to and after the December 15-20 meeting to convey information about the Board’s process and decision-making.

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