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NCCA Response to COVID-19

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), is very much aware of the impact that the concerns around COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have had on our industry and profession. Many of you have already made operational policy changes such as extending eligibility dates for testing and waiving change fees as reasonable short-term measures; the Commission encourages certification organizations to grant these exceptions to eligibility deadlines and testing fee policies as warranted to mitigate hardships attributable to complying with public health measures.

In addition, the NCCA has extended the following accreditation deadlines:

April 30, 2020 accreditation application deadline extended to May 31, 2020

June 1, 2020 annual report deadline extended to August 1, 2020

Limited Exception for Live Remote Proctoring

The NCCA has not yet determined whether the use of Live Remote Proctoring is consistent with its Standards. However, during this unprecedented global situation, the NCCA has authorized a limited exception, consistent with its core mission to protect public health and safety. Under this exception, a currently accredited program that is prevented from conducting in-person testing due to test center closures or governmental orders may, after careful consideration of the potential effect on its program, offer Live Remote Proctoring to meet an urgent need during the period that in-person testing is unavailable. 

The program will not lose its NCCA accreditation as a result of such decision if it complies with the Exception conditions, which can be found in the online Exception application. Instead the program will be classified internally as “Accredited with Compliance Reporting” during that period. If a program decides to make use of this Exception option, it must complete an application and receive approval for each program it plans to enroll before implementing live remote proctoring.

For more information about the Exception, as well as the current NCCA live remote proctoring assessment pilot, please read the NCCA's official communication.

Access the Exception Application

The Exception application is located in the LearningBuilder accreditaiton Portal. To access the application:

  1. Click on "Accreditation" on the main navigation, then select, "Online Application Portal" and Enter Now
    • Direct link: Accreditation Portal (note: you must be logged into your ICE account to access the accreditation portal)
  2. Hover over “My Programs” then click “Applications”
  3. Scroll down to the "Organization" listing (where annual reports are accessed)
  4. Find the "NCCA COVID-19 Exception Live Remote Proctoring Application" and click "Begin"

  Sample application - for viewing purposes only. All applications must be submitted via online form.  

Compliance Reporting 

The NCCA has finalized the compliance reporting requirements for programs approved for the Exception program. The compliance report will become available as an addendum to your approved Exception application. A PDF version of the compliance requirements can be accessed now.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. If a program needs to make additional adjustments, such as policy changes, to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, is there a separate process?
    In its previous communication to accredited programs, the Commission encouraged operational policy changes such as extending eligibility dates for testing and waiving change fees as reasonable short-term measures to mitigate hardships attributable to complying with public health measures.  The same applies to other operational policy changes such as temporarily extending recertification due dates and broadening categories of activities that would be eligible to earn credit (such as webinar attendance in lieu of live events).  These are time-limited adjustments that do not materially affect the program requirements and therefore do not need to be reported in advance to the NCCA.  However, in accordance with Standard 24, documentation of the temporary measures taken must be maintained and submitted with the organization’s Annual Report. 


    For other changes that would be considered material, Standard 24, Commentary 2 states:

    “Programs should present material changes to the ICE office in writing PRIOR to implementation because of the possibility that the implementation of the change could violate current Standards. These may include major changes in any of the following:
    - Legal status or governance structure of the certification agency;
    - Purpose, scope, or activities of the certification program;
    - Purpose, scope, or objectives of any certification examinations; 
    - Examination development, administration and/or evaluation procedures."

    The Commission commits to responding to these inquiries promptly. If there is any question whether a program change is operational or material, the Commission recommends reaching out to the Accreditation Services staff for assistance at info@credentialingexcellence.org

  2. Who can apply for Exception for the use of live remote proctoring?
    Only currently NCCA-accredited programs can apply for Exception for the use of live remote proctoring.

  3. What considerations should my program be thinking about?
    The NCCA has compiled a list of considerations that was provided to participants in the Live Remote Proctoring pilot. We hope that it provides useful information for programs as they consider whether applying for Exception approval is necessary. 

    ICE has also collected some resources related to remote proctoring on the ICE COVID-19 resource page: https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/covid19

  4. What should I have prepared before submitting an Exception application for my accredited program?
    You should have a document that address the services to be provided for live remote proctoring, including, at minimum, procedures and policies that address the following items:

    • Confirms the live remote monitoring of candidates during testing (both audio and video);
    • Verification of candidate identification;
    • Security of examinations and testing records;
    • Specified maximum allowed candidate/proctor ratio;
    • Security software to ensure candidates cannot access any unauthorized content or controls (e.g. lockdown software preventing printing or opening of other browsers);
    • Examination termination capabilities should misconduct be observed; and
    • Provider retention of sufficient records of the process to allow the certification program to confirm compliance with requirements of NCCA (e.g., video-records)

    A procedure and/or policy document specific to the arrangements that have been agreed to with your identified provider can be submitted to supply this information.  Service agreements may also be submitted, if they include the identified information, however, confidential information such as fees, should be redacted.

  5. When can my accredited program begin implementing live remote proctoring?
    You must submit your Exception application and receive approval from NCCA before implementing live remote proctoring. 

  6. How soon after I submit my application will the NCCA review it?
    NCCA anticipates sending notifications to programs within 1 week of submission receipt. If the information is incomplete or there are any questions about the information you submitted, the NCCA will contact you and this may extend the 1 week timeline. 

  7. Does record-and-review fall under the category of live remote proctoring?
    Live Remote Proctoring is defined by the Commission as remote proctoring that occurs with a person actively watching and monitoring a candidate during the time of the test administration and that provides safeguards for exam integrity and validity similar to in-person proctoring. This precludes record-and-review.

  8. Is the Exception program the same as the NCCA's live remote proctoring pilot assessment?
    They are not the same. The pilot assessment has some additional controls in order to collect data for NCCA analysis in determining whether live remote proctoring is consistent with the Standards. The Exception program is a time-limited option for certification programs to consider to meet the needs of their certificants during the global pandemic. The pilot assessment is continuing through this time, and the NCCA is coordinating with the participants of the pilot assessment to potentially speed up the data collection phase.

Questions?

If you have any additional questions, please contact ICE Accreditation Services staff at info@credentialingexcellence.org