Accreditation is:

  • Verification that you meet the exacting standards of 17024.
  • Assurance to regulatory bodies that your testing program is developed according to exemplary professional practices and sound psychometric principles.
  • Evidence that your testing program is engaged in continual improvement.
  • Documentation of the principles and practices that underpin your certification program
  • Assurance to certificants that your appeals policies are timely and fair
  • Testimony in legal proceedings that your program aspires to standards of international excellence.

Accreditation starts with the ISO/IEC 17024:12 standard.  ISO is the International Standards Organization.  IEC is the International Electrotechnical Commission.  The ISO and IEC jointly develop and maintain standards, of which 17024 is one.  The suffix :12 refers to the version of 17024 which was adopted in 2012.

Even though the standard is 21 pages long, the body is actually 12 pages.  The rest is title, glossary, contents, and an ‘Annex’.  So the standard is quite terse.

The standard contains statements of expectations that Certification Bodies (CBs) will meet.  These statements are frequently short but specific, and in some cases require interpretation to understand specifically what is required.  E.g., Standard 9.2.4 requires that methods for assessing candidates … are fair and valid.  However, verifying ‘fairness’ and ‘validity’ involves complex psychometric processes typically done by a competent professional.

As a CB develops and implements its testing process, it evaluates each component against the standards of 17024.  The CB must conduct an internal audit on an annual basis, internally evaluating whether it meets 17024 criteria and remedying faults if found.

When it is ready, a CB completes an application to an accreditation body – an organization which has competence to evaluate conformity with 17024.  Two accreditation bodies in the U.S. are ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and NCCA (the National Commission for Certifying Agencies).  Many governmental and quasi-governmental bodies in over a hundred countries recognize 17024 accreditation.  17024 accreditation in another country is not good in the US or vice-versa unless a reciprocity agreement has been negotiated.

The 17024 Compliance Handbook was written so certification managers, test developers and others engaged in certification have a comprehensive, authoritative guide to the accreditation process and the requirements it entails.


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