Message from the President: The Value of Data Part 2 (December 2021)

12.13.2021 | Credentialing, News, Newsletters

Winter 2021 Newsletter

As the final months of 2021 are upon us, greeting the new year of 2022 isn’t far behind. We are all hopeful that we can continue to march toward a more positive outlook after a pandemic. The NOCTI/NBS team has been fortunate to attend a few face-to-face conferences, but most have taken place in a virtual setting. Some originally scheduled conferences have either been canceled or postponed and we have quickly learned how much we miss direct interactions with our customers and friends in the CTE community and hope that we can see each other soon!

In a previous newsletter, we mentioned the importance of credentialing and talked about six categories: 1) Apprenticeships, 2) Degrees and Diplomas, 3) Digital Badges, 4) Certificates, 5) Certifications, and 6) Licenses. We also gave an indication that we would discuss the value of the data that those credentials provide. Although we don’t have the space in this message to go into intricate detail on this topic, we do want to provide some nuggets of information to get you thinking.

Quality providers of credentials understand that schools, colleges, and workforce training organizations provide services to potential employees for many reasons. At their heart, these workforce preparation organizations feel that credentials will help their learners along the path to meaningful employment. After all, quality credentials provide third-party independent verification of the skills an individual brings to the job. For the employer, this helps in the hiring process and in determining additional training needs. In some cases, providing credentials also helps workforce training organizations meet regulatory requirements.

However, focusing on these goals alone is short-sighted. Quality credentials are based on verifiable national standards and competencies employers expect. In addition, credentials should provide data based on an individual’s achievement levels against each identified competency. The data should be provided not only at the individual level, but also for each cohort of individuals preparing for the workforce. Ideally, this data should be available every year the credential is utilized and is commonly referred to as longitudinal data. Longitudinal data indicates how different cohorts of learners perform against nationally expected industry standards. If a teacher or trainer delivers the same content during each program, studying longitudinal data will reveal patterns showing the standards and competencies that learners understand, as well as those that the learners are not comprehending easily. If each cohort over time performs poorly in a standard dealing with use of power equipment, then an instructional change should be considered to address the low scores. Potential changes could include additional practice time with equipment, supplementary projects, a change in instructional media, or any host of other improvements.

The point is that without longitudinal, objective, third-party detailed reporting information, continuous improvement cannot occur, programs will stagnate, and learners will fail to meet the required expected proficiencies which is an outcome that no one in CTE wants to see happen! Solid technical competency data and its subsequent analysis is all about preparing learners for their future, so let’s all remember that data is critical to that forward motion. Let’s also not forget that the more a program can involve local employers in this process, the more quickly that program will improve. Helping the local community see your dedication to continuous improvement shows your commitment to quality!

By the time we talk again, it will be 2022 and many programs will be moving into “credentialing season” where students will be proving their skills and knowledge. As you help your students prepare for their credentialing assessments, remember the value of the data those assessments generate and use it to make your programs, schools, and training programs be the best they can be.

John Foster