A certificate is an indication of attaining intended learning outcomes—the tangible evidence of completing a training or education program. Certificate programs are typically offered by community colleges and universities, government agencies, employers, independent nonprofit training organizations, and professional and trade organizations.
However, while a certificate indicates this accomplishment, there needs to be a way to assess the adequacy of the certificate programs and the entities who issue them. Furthermore, there can be some ambiguity as to what constitutes a certificate program. ASTM E2659-18: Standard Practice for Certificate Programs takes an overarching, systematic approach to handle these issues, including guidelines for both the entity issuing the certificate and for the specific certificate programs for which it issues certificates.
While the ASTM E2659-18 standard practice does not address guidance pertaining to certification of individuals or education or training programs in general, it does provide certificate program developers and certificate issuers with guidelines for quality program development and administration.
Please note that that a certificate program specifically incorporates an individual participating in a learning event designed to assist in achieving specified learning outcomes within a defined scope. Alternatively, certification reflects attainment of established criteria for proficiency or competency in a profession or occupation. Certification programs are covered by ISO/IEC 17024:2012 – Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons.
Furthermore, ASTM E2659-18 forms the foundation for a recognition system that enables customers, employers, government agencies, and others who rely upon a skilled workforce to distinguish between qualified workers and those with fraudulent or less-than-quality credentials.
ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP)
In fostering the environment for certificate programs to exist reliably, ASTM E2659-18 forms the foundation for an accreditation system, through which certificate programs can be assessed as meeting a set level of quality. In doing so, ASTM E2659-18 not only establishes a set of rules for certificate programs to adhere to, but also reinforces them through adoption by accreditation bodies.
In fact, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) offers accreditation for certificate issuers, and the basis of the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP) is ASTM E2659.
ANSI accreditation for certificate programs conveys to a program’s customers that their awarded certificates represent the best quality education and training. In fact, several industries and numerous government organizations already require ANSI accredited certifications for their new hires, and many are considering similar requirements for certificates.
ASTM E2659-18: Standard Practice for Certificate Programs is available on the ANSI Webstore.