As we continue down the path to new certifications, 16 IMSA Sections joined Robin Heriff of Change by Design, board members and staff for a Section Leadership Update on Sept. 21. The interactive format allowed Robin and IMSA leadership to provide up to the minute updates and solicit input while giving our section leaders the opportunity to ask questions.

On the exam creation side, we are currently in the “Item Writing” stage where our subject matter experts are reviewing and building the initial test questions for the five certifications we plan to release first. Frankly, it has been more challenging than we’d hoped because many of our experts are volunteers who have limited time and lives away from IMSA. So, recognizing that we have a hard deadline to complete this stage, we’re planning to fly a dozen plus experts into Orlando on Oct. 11 to work exclusively on this project. We are already soliciting reviewers to gather immediately after to look at the questions for relevance, accuracy and language. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel moment because after the reviews are complete for all five disciplines, we will enter the questions into the Learning Management System to give us a chance to thoroughly beta-test and adjust them before launching the new exams. 

On the prep course side, Robin and her team have been working with subject matter experts and have finalized the first set of Detailed Design Documents for Traffic Signal Technician and Traffic Signal Field Technician Level II. The documents detail all of the knowledge required for certification and highlight specific lessons, key learnings and the anticipated time required to teach each module. These documents are designed to provide a framework for moderators to use as they teach the content required for certification success.

While the Detailed Design Documents are a starting point for instructors, they are not necessarily an end point. After the certifications are launched, we’ll work with the sections to consider what that might look like.

We are not stopping to rest after we launch the first five certifications. Work will begin in November on the next five certification Job Task Analyses (JTAs) for Traffic Signal Tech Level II Construction, Traffic Signal Inspector, Signs and Pavement Markings Technician Level II Transportation Center System Specialist Level I, and Traffic Signal Senior Field Technician Level III. We’re also looking to the future as the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) considers a new certification.

I think it is important to recognize the collaborative culture in which we’re doing this work, from the volunteers who are helping us with specific questions, even down to the tone of the Section Leadership Update meetings. Attendees made several valuable suggestions including developing a repository so sections can share items that all moderators could use including photos of faults in a cabinet, or teaching PowerPoints for example. We are exploring resources to make that happen, but my observation is that this kind of collaboration is keeping us on our timeline and on track. We are planning to roll out the first certifications in December, so the finish line is getting closer and when all is said and done, we will own an entirely new series of legally defensible, relevant and timely certifications that we can update as technology develops and as the careers of our members require.

I know that some have asked that we expand these video meetings to include broader groups, but to keep the gatherings manageable, it is our hope that section leader attendees are taking this information back to their peers. That said, if a section requests, we’d be happy to make staff or board members available for a discussion. High Impact, our marketing and PR partner, will also be reaching out to section leaders to discuss how we can best serve you during this process.  Meanwhile, we will continue to update you as we travel this path. Thank you again for your help and insight and if you have any thoughts or questions, please drop me an email.