CERTIFICATION UPDATE s
A quality professional exam must be based on the findings
of industry-accepted practices. These practices have
been established over time and are generally followed by
professional examinations worldwide. These standards
outline the job analysis, item development, and passing
standard development processes. In an effort to provide
superior exam products, AHIMA follows these industry
standards when developing exams.
To determine the scope of an exam, AHIMA, conducts Job
Task Analysis studies regularly. A job analysis is designed to
obtain descriptive information about the tasks performed in
a job and the knowledge needed to adequately perform those
tasks. This study is designed to develop the foundational
blueprint on which the exam is based. The findings of the
job analysis include the following:
Knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to safely and
adequately perform a job.
Ratings of job-related tasks based on importance and
frequency of occurrence.
Recommendations concerning exam layout (blueprint).
Standard-setting procedures are a poorly understood
set of processes that are critical to the development and
administration of a legally defensible exam. A standard-setting study is a research project used to determine a
psychometrically defensible cut-score for an exam form.
A cut-score on a certification exam is used to standardize
a point at which a candidate could be classified as competent
or incompetent. The study involves using subject matter
experts, psychometricians, exam performance, and historical
trends in exam item performance. The information provided
allows CCHIM to decide on what the cut-score should be.
Item development is a continuous process that involves
subject matter experts that are recruited from a variety
of backgrounds including education settings, hospitals,
correctional facilities, insurance companies, and outpatient
facilities. Each subject matter expert (SME) is vetted to
ensure an adequate representation of employment settings,
geographical region differences, age and gender, and years
of experience in the field. These professionals are responsible
for the development of exam items that appear on all
Once new Items have been developed, they are placed on
exams as unscored items. These items are indistinguishable
from scored items and are only on the form to collect item
performance data. This performance data is used to seed
exam forms with new exam items.
While items are used on exam forms, it is important that
they are constantly reviewed for accuracy and relevance. As
practices change in the field, items become irrelevant and
potentially out of date. To ensure testing fairness, items that
no longer accurately measure practice are removed from exam
forms and replaced with new items that closely mirror practice.
A professional exam program is only as good as its
development and delivery processes. The quality of an exam
can be damaged if any of these steps are incorrectly followed.
When the steps are correctly administered, a well-defined,
legally defensible, fair exam can be created that will accurately
measure the difference between competent and incompetent
testing candidates. v
How to Create a Quality Professional Exam
JOB ANALYSIS STANDARD SETTING ITEM DEVELOPMENT RETESTING ONGOING REVIEW s s s s