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Legal Defensibility

Coscarelli, Robins, Shrock, and Herbst (1998), in their examination of the Certification Suite, argue that a key issue with certification programs is the unreliability and invalidity of most assessments. They are neither legally defensible nor capable of professionally certifying competence.

They contend that assessments developed in a non-legally defensible manner provide a false sense of security while encouraging organizations to misplace people, resources, time, and talent while also putting the business in legal jeopardy.

"To be considered a true certification program, a testing program needs to follow guidelines to be considered legally defensible" (Mulkey & Naughton 2005, p.24). They go on to argue that the assessment development processes needs to hold up in court if a candidate contests the validity of the instrument or the certification program.

As originally offered by Blair (Hewlett-Packard's Certified Professional Program Strategy and Planning manager), Mulkey and Naughton list 10 areas for legal defensibility that should be analyzed by businesses when reviewing a certification program.

In their discussion, the first three areas strategically aligned with legal defensibility are (a) ensuring evidence of assessment validity and reliability, (b) having subject matter experts assist in the development of the assessment instrument, and (c) providing test takers with adequate learning opportunities and resources to prepare for the assessment.

Schule (2009) agrees and in his analysis finds that for a certification program to succeed in a healthcare setting, education must be valued.

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