Defining the profession: Your input is needed for the CFLE job analysis!

by Dawn Cassidy, M.Ed., CFLE, Director of Education

How do we know what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed to be an effective family life educator? How do we ensure that the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential accurately reflects the practice of family life education? In an effort to answer these questions, NCFR is initiating a job analysis as part of the process to update the CFLE exam.

In 2007 NCFR created a multiple-choice exam as a way to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of those seeking the nationally-recognized Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential. The CFLE credential had previously been awarded via a portfolio process or by completion of pre-approved academic coursework via the Abbreviated Application process. The decision to replace the portfolio process was made in response to an extensive survey and marketing study to assess the viability of the CFLE credential and the profession of family life education. The results of the survey and study confirmed that in order to advance the CFLE credential and the practice of family life education, a national standardized exam was needed.

NCFR contracted with Schroeder Measurement Technologies (SMT) to carry out an extensive job analysis followed by the creation of the CFLE exam questions. The CFLE exam was launched in November of 2007. To date nearly 400 family professionals have taken the CFLE exam with approximately 72 percent passing and becoming CFLEs. In order to maintain the currency and relevance of the CFLE exam it is necessary to update the questions every few years. NCFR is currently involved in this process.

While a second job analysis is not required in order to update the exam, we decided it was needed to ensure that the CFLE exam content was still relevant. A job analysis helps to define the practice, ensures a minimal level of professional competence, and provides a uniform standard of assessment. It provides a critical link between test specifications and professional practice which ensures that exam questions and pass/fail decisions are valid and job relevant. It also allows the exam to be legally defensible.

The primary goals of a job analysis include:

  • Define performance domains and tasks related to the purpose of the credential
  • Identify knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) associated with performance domains and tasks
  • Describe relative importance of performance domains and tasks

A committee of ten subject matter experts recently completed the process of reviewing the current CFLE content outline (knowledge, skills and abilities relevant to each of the ten family life content areas) to determine if any changes were needed. This updated outline will be converted into a job analysis survey which will be distributed sometime this summer. It is extremely important that we receive a significant response to the survey so that we can be confident that the CFLE exam reflects current practice. All current CFLEs will be asked to complete the survey and to identify non-certified family professionals who can also participate. The job analysis survey will require respondents to review the CFLE content line-by-line and evaluate if the knowledge, skill, or ability noted is necessary for effective practice. In addition, respondents will be asked to rate how important it is. The results of the job analysis survey will influence the number of exam questions per content area and the scope of those questions. The job analysis survey will take a fair amount of thought and time to complete but it is vitally important to the validity of the CFLE exam.

Once the job analysis survey results are collected and analyzed, an item-writing committee will begin the work of writing several new test questions for each of the concepts included in the CFLE content outline. This work will be done online with each committee member working independently. Once all the new exam questions have been created, the committee will meet for a two-day, face-to-face meeting at SMT headquarters in Florida where all new test questions will be reviewed, edited, and accepted for inclusion in the new test form or rejected. It is important that we have a healthy test bank so while 150 questions will be chosen for the new test form, we will need to have at least 200 more in the test bank for use should some questions not test well or if there were ever any concern regarding the security of the exam. Our intention is to launch the new CFLE exam test form for the July 2015 testing window.

When NCFR carried out the job analysis survey in 2007, we received an amazing response rate of 47 percent from current CFLEs with an additional 369 responses from non-certified professionals. SMT was extremely impressed with this response rate and said that it was one of the highest they had ever received. It is our hope that we can replicate this response rate. If you receive an invitation to complete the survey please do so. It is your opportunity to contribute to research regarding the practice of family life education, the validity of the CFLE exam, and the advancement of the profession.