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May 2011

From the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

NCES Leads Federal Working Group on Certificates and Certifications

Current federal data collections do not capture the full range of occupational credentials that adults can attain. To fill this gap, a federal interagency working group, led by NCES, is developing new data sources to monitor the prevalence of industry-recognized certifications and educational certificates among U.S. adults. The group is working to improve how federal surveys collect information on the education and training that youth and adults need to prepare for jobs and contribute to the growth of the economy.

The project, which is being conducted at the request of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), consists of a shorter-term project to develop survey questions that can accurately enumerate certificates and certifications currently held by adults. There are also longer-term plans to develop a household study to document adult acquisition of education and training for work.

To date, the working group has conducted a review of related research literature and has developed a bank of existing survey items on industry-recognized certifications and educational certificates. The group has also conducted focus groups with potential survey respondents, and developed and tested a draft questionnaire designed to identify respondents with certificates or certifications. NCES recently conducted a nationally representative pilot study to evaluate the questionnaire items and is in the process of analyzing the results, which will be used to select a small group of items to be included in a large national household study to measure the prevalence of certificates and certifications.

The working group includes staff from the CEA, OMB, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information about the project, contact Sharon Boivin at NCES.