Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Development of the Certified Nurse Educator Certification Exam: A Spotlight on Competencies, Scoring, and Security

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Development of the Certified Nurse Educator Certification Exam: A Spotlight on Competencies, Scoring, and Security

Article excerpt

To a nurse educator taking a certification exam, the experience may seem similar to that of a student taking an instructorcreated classroom exam, but the process is very different, particularly with regard to test development. As we are often asked about the development and scoring of the NLN Certified Nurse Educator certification exam, following is a brief explanation of how the exam was originally developed, how it remains relevant to current practice, how it is scored, and how security is assured.

TEST DEVELOPMENT

Certification exams are the end product of a rigorous test development process. The genesis of certification begins with the identification of the subject matter content/practice competencies and accompanying task statements for the role, which are derived from current literature. The competencies and task statements become the basis for the development of a practice analysis survey by a panel of subject matter experts. Results of the practice analysis are used to develop a test blueprint that outlines and guides test development. To ensure that the test blueprint remains reflective of the current practice of the role, the practice analysis survey is repeated every four to six years.

Subject matter experts write specific test items, each linked to a competency and task statement of the test plan. In addition, each test item must be referenced to current practice literature and conform to the best practices of writing standardized test items. Once the items are developed, they are pilot tested so that statistical data for the items can be collected and analyzed. Based on item analysis, the test item may be retained "as is" (making it an "active" exam item suitable for use as a scored item on a test), revised, or deleted. If the item is revised, it must again be piloted before it can be considered active.

DATA-DRIVEN SCORING

The NLN certification program uses a minimum of two forms of the certification exam at any one time. Each form must strictly conform to the test blueprint, but the actual test items will vary. Test development committees (TDCs), composed of subject matter experts, are integral in the exam process. The TDC reviews the statistical performance of individual test items, as well as overall exam performance validity and reliability. This process is data driven. …

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