Education and Testing Experts Assess the CPM Credentialing Process

NARM Process Gets High Marks in Review

In July 1997, two experts in education and testing from Ohio State University testified about the NARM process before the Ohio Study Council on Midwifery. Citizens for Midwifery commissioned these experts to prepare their testimonies. This is the first time the NARM CPM process has been assessed by a disinterested third party, and NARM came through with flying colors. The official summaries of these testimonies follow. For additional information, please refer to the complete text of Dr. Mahlman's testimony and Dr. Catri's testimony.


Summary of Testimony Regarding the Quality of the NARM Certification Process

Written by Robert A. Mahlman, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Assessment Services,
Vocational Instructional Materials Laboratory
The Ohio State University

The overall quality of the processes used to develop the certification tests and testing procedures is very high and represents "best practice" within certification industry standards. The procedures followed were clearly based on established standards for educational and psychological testing as set forth by the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Council of Measurement in Education.

Substantial thought and resources were invested in the foundation of the certification system, i.e., the job analysis. The development of the content specifications based on the job analysis of information was focused on the primary purpose of certification-the protection of public health and safety. The procedures used for test item writing, content validation, setting pass/fail cut scores, and the development of the overall certification process represent a system explicitly designed to optimize fairness and accuracy in certification testing.


Summary of Analysis of the Current CPM Process to Competency-Based Education

Written by Deborah Bingham Catri, Ph.D.
Director, Vocational Instructional Materials Laboratory,
The Ohio State University
1900 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210
1-800-848-4815 Ext. 40724m
binghamcatri.1@osu.edu

Competency-based education (CBE) began as a widespread movement across the United States in the late 1970's. Today CBE is very much a reality in the United States and most of Canada. CBE is based on competent performance in a practical work situation. CBE stresses performance in an actual work situation that is based on identified competencies and students must achieve a minimum level of competency based on specified criteria.

Essential defining characteristics for a CBE program included the following-

1. Competencies to be demonstrated by the student are role-relevant competencies determined though job analysis.
2. Criteria to be employed in assessing competencies are explicit in stating levels of mastery (standards) under specified conditions.
3. Competencies are specified to students prior to instruction.
4. Criterion-referenced measures are used to measure the achievement of competencies.
5. A system exists for documenting the competencies achieved by each student.


Summary of Analysis of the Current CPM Process to Competency-Based Education (Table)

The following analysis was undertaken of the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) program.
Analysis results can be found below.

CBE Defining Characteristics CPM Process Component
Competencies to be demonstrated by the student are role-relevant competencies determined through job analysis 1995 Job Analysis of the Role of Direct-Entry Midwives-Developed through a strong, research-based job analysis process; the analysis serves to identify knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform as a Direct-Entry Midwife; Accreditation of Direct Entry Midwifery Education Programs Standards published by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council require under standard two that "curriculum is consistent with the current MANA Midwifery Core Competencies and NARM Certification"
Criteria to be employed in assessing competencies are explicit in stating levels of mastery (standards) under specified conditions Core competencies were defined for a "minimally proficient" direct entry midwife through panel discussions with subject matter experts during the job analysis process.
Competencies are specified to students prior to instruction Clear documentation of competencies are provided from two sources: Candidate Information Bulletin published by The North American Registry of Midwives and Practical Skills Guide for Midwifery authored by Pam Weaver and Sharon K. Evans and published by Morningstar Publishing Company
Criterion-referenced measures are used to measure the achievement of competencies. CPM examination program includes cognitive and performance assessment and is clearly criterion referenced back to the 1995 Job Analysis of the Role of Direct Entry Midwives.
A system exists for documenting the competencies achieved by each student. Documentation of competency attainment begins with the preceptor/supervisor/mentor verification which requires sign of through a notarized form for each competency; Earns a national certificate as a CPM by passing the national CPM examination; Narrative reports are given to unsuccessful exam candidates which list areas of strengths to weaknesses.

Summary Comments

The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) program to establish that practitioners possess the minimum competencies necessary to practice, in my opinion, clearly exhibits all the required characteristics of a competency-based program. Regardless of the educational pathway chosen-apprenticeship, postsecondary education, adult education, at-a-distance education, or a self-paced program-student competency attainment remains the objective. The assessment component of the program provides evidence that successful passage of the national CPM exam ensures that minimum competence has been attained.

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