Professional or personnel certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are evaluated against predetermined standards for knowledge, skills, or competencies. Participants who demonstrate that they meet the standards by successfully completing the assessment process are granted a time-limited credential. To retain the credential, certificants must maintain continued competence. The credential awarded by the certification program provider denotes that the participant possesses particular knowledge, skills, or competencies.
Whereas the focus of an assessment-based certificate program is on education/training, the focus of professional/personnel certification is on the assessment of participants. Moreover, the assessment is independent of a specific class, course or other education/training program and also independent of any provider of classes, courses, or programs. The assessments are NOT designed to evaluate mastery of the intended learning outcomes of a specific class, course or education/training program and the certification program provider is NOT the sole provider of any education or training that may be required for certification.
An assessment-based certificate program is a relatively short, non-degree granting program that provides instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring knowledge/skills/competencies and designates that participants have passed an end-of-program assessment derived from learning/course objectives. Although assessment is an integral part of the certificate program, the program's primary purpose is to provide instruction and training with intended learning outcomes.
- provides instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies associated with intended learning outcomes;
- evaluates participants’ achievement of the intended learning outcomes; and
- awards a certificate only to those participants who meet the performance, proficiency or passing standard for the assessment(s) (hence the term, “assessment-based certificate program”).
Certificate of Attendance or Participation
Certificates of attendance or participation are provided to individuals (participants) who have attended or participated in classes, courses, or other education/training programs or events. The certificate awarded at the completion of the program or event signifies that the participant was present and in some cases that the participant actively participated in the program or event. Demonstration of accomplishment of the intended learning outcomes by participants is NOT a requirement for receiving the certificate; thus, possession of a certificate of attendance or participation does not indicate that the intended learning outcomes have been accomplished by the participant. These are key distinctions between a certificate of attendance or participation and an assessment-based certificate program.
For more information on Certificate vs. Certification review the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) defining features document here.