Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

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Embedding and Aligning Certifications with Academic Programs

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Determining Quality

Embedding and Aligning Certifications with Academic Programs

Determining Quality

Quality assurance frameworks for credentials may be process-based, outcome-based, or a combination.

  •  Process-based frameworks focus on ensuring that the creation and governance of the credentials are transparent and incorporate best practices.
  •  Outcome-based frameworks focus on individual-level outcomes as the basis for quality.

The following are examples of organizations that have developed quality frameworks for the broader category of non-degree credentials – not specifically for certification.

The Education Quality Outcomes Standards’ (EQOS) Quality Assurance Framework

The EQOS Framework —which is primarily outcome-based with some process-based elements— assesses student outcomes in five areas: learning, completion, placement, earnings, and satisfaction. This framework is being used to identify high-quality training opportunities that lead to economic opportunities for individuals who complete those training programs.

The National Skills Coalition Principles of Quality Non-Degree Credentials  

The National Skills Coalition, in partnership with a set of states, developed a definition and guiding principles for non-degree credentials. This quality assurance framework is both outcome- and process-based. According to this framework, for a credential to be viewed as a quality non-degree credential, there must be job opportunities that value it, evidence that the credential holder has mastered a set of competencies, and evidence of employment and wage outcomes after it is earned. In addition, it is highly preferred that the credential can be stacked into other education and training opportunities.

The Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center Conceptual Framework to Guide Measurement of Non-Degree Credentials

This framework uses a combination of outcome- and process-based characteristics in four areas: credential design, competencies, market processes, and outcomes. The outcomes section looks beyond employment and wages to social benefits focused on individual health and well-being and to benefits to employers, including increased worker retention and an improved employee pipeline.

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Improving Education and Employment Outcomes