How should the TestOut Pro Certification exams be used?
TestOut Pro Certifications were specifically developed for our academic customers, and were designed to be used in two main ways:
- As national assessment exams. Because our exams are used by schools nationwide, using the built-in reporting tools, schools can compare their performance year-to-year and against other schools nationally.
- As an industry certification or credential. TestOut Pro Certifications focus on measuring and validating hands-on skills.
In addition to these uses, schools are looking at using TestOut Pro Certifications to fulfill state or federal government requirements (for example, as proof for Perkins or other funding), as a prerequisite for advanced classes, as a test-out for college credit, or for graded or extra class credit.
Even if your school is still in the process of evaluating and approving use of the TestOut Pro Certification exams, you can still deliver the exams to your students to give them the benefit of an industry certification, or as a way to unofficially measure your students year-to-year.
I'm an instructor. Can I see what's on the exam?
To protect the integrity of the exam, it is rare (if not impossible) for instructors or administrators to view the contents of national assessment or industry certification exams.
TestOut is currently allowing instructors the opportunity to take our Pro Certification exams one time only for their own benefit. Before attempting the exam, review the exam objectives and use our course materials to prepare as you would for any other certification exam. When taking the exam, please allow at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted time and do your best to pass. Instructors who pass the exam will be awarded the corresponding TestOut Pro Certification.
I had a problem during the exam. What should I do?
If you experience difficulties in scheduling or taking a TestOut Pro certification exam, contact technical support at 1 (800) 877-4889 or firstname.lastname@example.org immediately for help in resolving the problem or rescheduling the exam.
What's required to be able to deliver and take a TestOut Pro Certification exam?
TestOut Pro Certification exams are included in the purchase price of corresponding LabSim products. Scheduling or taking an exam requires the following:
- You must access LabSim through the browser (go to labsim.testout.com).
- Instructors must set up classes, and students must be associated with classes.
- Students must have a license to the LabSim product(s) that correspond to the TestOut Pro Certification.
- Instructors schedule the exam to make the exam available for students to take.
TestOut Pro Certifications Retake Policy and Cost
Cost for retaking Pro Certification: one (1) Voucher - $39
- At this time exam retakes can ONLY be scheduled and administered by the original administrating teacher.
- Retake vouchers can be purchased online with an academic purchasing code, or they can be purchased over the phone by calling TestOut at 1-800-877-4889.
- When a passing score is not achieved by a candidate on the first try, TestOut does not require a waiting period between the first (1st) and second (2nd) attempt to retake the exam.
- If a passing score is not achieved on the second attempt, the candidate must wait a time period of at least one (1) week before retaking the exam a third time.
- A one (1) week waiting period will also be required for subsequent retakes up to 5 tries. A candidate may only take an exam 5 times per year (12 months). After the fifth (5) attempt, a waiting period of one (1) year will be imposed before the exam may be retaken again. The one (1) year waiting period begins on the date of the fifth (5th) attempt.
- If a candidate passes the exam, they cannot take the exam again without prior approval from TestOut.
- Candidates must pay for each attempted exam. The cost of the first exam is included with the purchase of TestOut Pro courses.
Are TestOut Pro Certifications industry certifications?
Yes. TestOut Pro Certifications measure skills and abilities for performing job-related tasks of configuring, managing, and troubleshooting computer and networking systems. Our certification exams are developed using generally accepted methods and processes used by all other IT certification providers. TestOut has been involved in the IT certification industry for 20 years, and has a dedicated team of experts in both content and exam development. The certification exam is a valid measure of relevant and important job skills. It was developed in consultation with our academic partners and industry experts, using industry-standard psychometric analysis coupled with our own unique experience and innovative approach.
Have the Pro Certification exams been validated?
In the certification industry, test validity has a very specific meaning. A test is valid if the test measures what it claims to measure. In other words, if the test claims to measure the ability to perform specific configuration tasks, has sufficient evidence been gathered to support that claim (or, from the evidence, can we conclude that the exam actually measures the ability to perform those tasks)?
Test validation is performed by delivering the test to sample groups and performing statistical analysis on each question and the entire test. Psychometrics is the field of study focusing on the measurement of knowledge and abilities. Using generally-accepted statistical methods, a psychometrician (one who studies and applies psychometrics) analyzes the proposed (or beta) questions and tests. Based on this analysis, poorly performing questions are removed, and final versions of the test are constructed.
Test validation is an activity performed by the organization that designs and builds the test, either using internal employees or contracted individuals or companies. TestOut employs a full-time psychometrician and has also contracted with industry experts during the development and analysis of the TestOut Pro Certification exams. Based on our analysis and the evidence we have gathered, we believe that our tests are a valid measure of one’s ability to perform computer and network configuration tasks.
Have TestOut certifications been accredited?
In the certification industry, accreditation is a third-party examination of the processes used during the development of the exam. The accrediting body verifies that industry standards and guidelines were followed during the development, delivery, and maintenance of the exam (in other words, accreditation certifies the certification exam). Accreditation only verifies the processes used; it does not directly certify the exam content (that is accomplished through the exam validation process).
ANSI/ISO/IEC standard 17024 defines the generally-accepted standards for certification programs. To gain accreditation, the certification exam program is examined by an accreditation body (an organization authorized to verify that the standards have been properly followed). ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation is granted to a specific certification (such as Microsoft’s MCITP: Server Administrator), not to a certification developer (such as CompTIA). Thus, it is possible for a vendor or association to have both accredited and non-accredited certifications. Not all IT certification programs are accredited; in fact, only a relatively small handful of IT certifications are.
While TestOut has followed many of the standards defined by ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 , TestOut Pro Certifications have not been granted ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation. Lack of accreditation does not mean that the certification is not valid, it simply means that our processes have not been fully documented, examined, and verified by the accreditation body. As a new certification program, none of our Pro certifications have been accredited (the process typically takes a year or longer to complete). Additionally, one of the requirements for accreditation is that the certification has regular expiration and renewal periods (meaning that individuals must periodically recertify). Current TestOut Pro Certifications are lifetime certifications, so we would be required to enact an update policy if we decide to seek accreditation.
Can TestOut certifications be used to fulfill DoDD 8570?
The Department of Defense Directive 8570 states that individuals, agencies, and organizations within the Department of Defense must certify that they possess appropriate knowledge and skill in Information Assurance (or IT security) job skills. As proof of competency, DoDD 8570 accepts an approved list of IT industry certifications. A+, Network+, Security+, SSCP, and CISSP are some of the certifications that can be used to fulfill DoDD 8570.
To be on the approved list of certifications, the certification program must be ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accredited, and must go through a government approval process. This is one of the reasons why CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications are no longer lifetime certifications; for ANSI accreditation (and to qualify for DoD 8570), these certification programs were required to include recertification requirements.
TestOut Pro Certifications cannot be used for DoDD 8570 requirements because they are not ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accredited and have not gone through the DoDD 8570 approval process.
What authority, approval, or recognition is required to create a certification?
This question implies that, in order to be classified as a certification, some kind of outside, authoritative source bestows special privileges on an organization, authorizing it to create a certification. The certification derives some of its value from the authority bestowed upon the organization.
The truth of IT certifications is that organizations are qualified to provide a certification based largely on their own reputation and experience. IT certifications are currently developed by one of two types of entities:
- Vendors such as Microsoft or Cisco provide software, hardware, and services to the IT industry. They create certifications based on their own products (in which they are viewed as the experts).
- Trade associations, such as CompTIA or (ISC)2, exist to serve their individual and business memberships.
Vendors rely on their product expertise, while trade associations rely on the backing of their members to gain some form of credibility for their certification programs. When it comes to creating the actual certifications, following standard processes and using analysis to gather evidence about the exam validity are the main qualifiers for calling an exam a certification. Some certification programs take the additional step of becoming ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accredited.
TestOut is neither a hardware/software vendor nor a trade association. We do, however, use the same standards and methods to develop our certification exams as the standards used by other IT certification companies. Because of our over 20 years in the industry, and our unparalleled experience in developing performance-based training and testing, we believe we are uniquely qualified to validate key IT industry skills through our new line of TestOut Pro Certifications.
What schools accept TestOut Pro Certifications?
As of January 2016, the TestOut Pro Certification exams have been taken by more than 38,000 individuals in over 1,600 schools. There are many high schools, colleges, and state organizations that use TestOut Pro Certifications as “official” or “accepted” exams to fulfill their needs for an authentic assessment of hands-on skills.
If your state has not yet added the Pro certifications to their official state list, please contact your TestOut sales representative, to see how TestOut may assist you in the process.
What businesses accept TestOut's Pro Certifications?
TestOut Pro Certifications were developed first and foremost to meet the needs of our academic customers, to be used as an authentic measure of hands-on skills. Our top priority is to continue to promote and improve the exam within the educational community. We aim to provide a test that can meet your needs in ways that current certification exams cannot.
TestOut’s mission is to “make a difference in a person’s life.” The difference we make is giving them job skills, and we believe that employers need a better way of evaluating real-world skills. TestOut Pro Certifications are a valid measurement of a person’s ability to perform computer and network administration tasks. While we are not currently actively seeking endorsement of our exam from specific businesses or employers, our hope is that educators, individuals, and businesses find value in the certification that we’ve developed.
As we continue to refine our certification exams, we expect to gain academic and industry recognition for our innovative and leading approach to certification.