Certification: Examination Administration
The goal of certification is to provide a recognized credential that demonstrates to consumer and professional colleagues specialized knowledge and skill in a particular area. The purpose of the Lamaze Childbirth Educator Certification Examination is to provide competent, highly qualified childbirth educators.
This policy is established to ensure that uniform procedures are followed for administration of the Lamaze International Childbirth Educator Certification Examination. Policies and procedures apply to all language translations of the exam. This Policy refers to other policies that details specific aspects of the certification program. All certification program policies should be reviewed annually and put forth at a spring Certification Governing Body meeting for update and approval as needed.
The Lamaze International Certification Program is the only internationally recognized childbirth educator program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). Lamaze International has dedicated nearly 60 years to providing highly qualified, competent certified educators, and through its commitment to developing a certification examination that meets the highest standards for validity, reliability and fairness has achieved this extraordinary recognition. For more information regarding NCCA or ICE please visit their website.
The Exam At-A-Glance
The foundation for the Lamaze Childbirth Educator Certification Exam is the expertise of the knowledgeable, skilled, practicing LCCE educators of today. The Lamaze International
Certification Council uses the guidelines set forth by NCCA in developing its exam.
The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions which reflect essential information that a childbirth educator should know. This format ensures a high level of objectivity in scoring. Multiple choice exams are currently the standard for licensure (medical and nursing) and certification (lactation consultants, nurse midwifery, nursing certifications).
The exam is criterion referenced - which means that there is no curve or predetermined pass or failure rate The passing score may fluctuate based on the difficulty of the items that are scored in each exam. Following each administration of the exam, a statistical analysis is completed by a psychometrician. The review committee may choose to eliminate questions that did not "perform" well according to the statistical analysis. The level of difficulty of the remaining items determines the passing score. An important feature of the exam is that those who take the exam are not compared to each other, rather, they are individually evaluated against the standard.
The items in the test item database are developed by the Exam Development Committee and invited guests. The committee includes the Governing Body of the Certification Council and practicing LCCE educators representing a broad demographic. Beginning in 1998, high- scorers on the exam are invited to participate in the exam development meetings.
The committee meets once each year to evaluate potential items for the exam, to create new items, and to reevaluate items already in the item bank.
The test blue print is developed and approved by the Certification Council Governing Body based on the job analysis. Using the test blueprint as their guide, once a year the Exam Construction Committee meets to construct the two exams for the year. This group which includes the chair of the Exam Development Committee and the Governing Body Chair, is responsible for evaluating the performance of the exams following administration. In addition, this group reviews all candidate comments about the exam and make final decisions related to the potential discarding of any exam items.
The Certification Council has sole responsibility for exam development, policy development, cutoff scores, setting fees within an approved budget and administrative oversight for the certification examination. The Certification Council Governing Body will periodically review policies and procedures related to administration of the certification exam to insure they are fair and equitable. The Certification Program staff carries out the day-to-day tasks related to the administration of the exam.
The certification examination is given twice annually, in spring and fall. The exam is offered in three languages, English, Spanish, Romanian, and administered in a computer-based format and paper and pencil on an as needed basis by paper administration. Other languages can be considered in accordance with the Foreign Language Policy. The exam is offered over a three-day window as publicized in all locations. The following procedures are followed for administration of the Lamaze International Childbirth Educator Certification Exam.
Computer Based Exam Testing Centers
Exam registration begins 4 months prior to exam administration. Candidates approved to take the computer-based exam will be contacted by TesTrac and/or PSI to make an appointment at a testing center or to supply required proctor information. Administrative staff will coordinate with TesTrac regularly to supply a list of exam candidates including all demographic details (full name, full address, identification number, candidate type, program attended, language, status (i.e., first–timer, retake). PSI testing centers are available throughout the U.S., much of Canada and some other international sites.
Alternate Test Sites
Exam candidates outside the United States taking the test in English, Spanish or Romanian with no access to PSI site may request to establish an alternate test site. Candidates must contact the Administrative Office at least ten weeks prior to the exam date (by the alternate site deadline) and are responsible for identifying an appropriate test site, with a computer available, and proctor.
It is preferred that the test site be an educational setting conducive to test taking. The following information should be on file for each test site administering the paper exam at least six weeks prior to the examination date:
- Name, address, email and phone number of the Test Administrator.
- Name, phone number and email address of the Proctor.
- Name and phone number of the contact person candidates may call with questions specific to the test site.
- Exact location of examination site, including building names or numbers, room numbers, etc.
- Directions to and map of the exam site with examination location noted, and lodging information for out of town candidates.
- Registration time (should be 30 minutes prior to examination start time), and examination start time
At least four weeks prior to the examination date, a communication is sent to each candidate with the following test site information:
- Exam date, registration and test time.
- Exam location, map of test site area, and lodging information.
- Name and phone number of contact person to whom specific test site questions should be directed.
- General information about the examination.
Proctor Requirements at Alternate Exam Sites
In order to be eligible to proctor the certification examination; the proposed proctor must have previous experience proctoring exams administered nationally. The proctor cannot be an LCCE educator, or affiliated with the education program the candidate(s) attended. In order to be approved, the proctor must sign and submit the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality agreements. Upon receipt of all applicable documentation, the Lamaze International administrative office will notify the proctor and candidate of approval. To maintain the integrity of the exam, all proctors must also sign the Security Agreement Form on the day of the exam and return it to the Administrative Office with the exam packet. Candidates also sign a confidentiality form on the exam day and it is returned with the exam materials to Lamaze International.
In the case that the candidate does not have the means to take the examination via computer-based software, the candidate can request a paper format of the examination in writing prior to the application deadline. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Staff will make available the necessary forms that need to be completed in order for proctor and exam site to be approved. Security is paramount and will be taken in to consideration upon review.
Preparing and Mailing Examination Booklets
Bound copies will be made for each candidate taking the paper format of the examination, plus an extra booklet for every 3-4 candidates at each site. Each examination must be checked to determine if pages are missing or misprinted, sealed with a non-removable label or seal, and numbered consecutively with a unique number, beginning with 01.”
10 days prior to the examination date, a packet is mailed to the Test Administrator (or other designated person) with the following materials:
- Sealed, numbered examination booklets— one for each candidate plus 10% overage for University/Chapter Programs or Conference Sites.
- A list of the students, complete with names, addresses, phone numbers assigned to that test site.
- Test Administration Instructions.
- Name and phone number of Lamaze International staff contact in case of problems on the day of the examination.
- Exam Confidentiality Statement.
- Security Agreement Form.
- Answer sheets.
- Test Critique Forms.
- Proctor Irregularity Report Form.
- #2 pencils for each candidate
- Prepaid self-addressed shipment air bill and envelope.
- A 10x13 envelope for each candidate at the site.
A list is kept in the Administrative Office of the total number of test booklets and the unique number of these booklets, which is mailed to each site.
The tests must be mailed using a service, which can be tracked, and which requires a signature when received (e.g. Fed Ex, DHL). The certification staff should contact the exam administrator and/or proctor to ensure the exams have arrived at least one-day prior to the exam administration.
Staff Support on the Day of the Examination
On the day of the examination, the certification staff, PSI and TesTrac must be available by phone in case of problems during the examination administration.
Processing Returned Exam Packets
The Test Administrator returns all materials to the Lamaze International Administrative Office within two days after the examination. Upon receipt of the returned examination material, the Certification staff:
- Checks that all booklets mailed to each site have been returned by comparing the examinee list, registration list, and answer sheets for each site, noting any candidates who did not show up for the examination.
- Reviews the Proctor Irregularity Forms and reports any problems to the Certification Council Chair.
- Alphabetizes all answer sheets, inspects them for stray marks, and makes one copy of each. If stray marks occur, they are erased.
- Files test booklets in a locked file for one year after the examination, and shreds test booklets after one year (Exception: if there is an appeal, do not shred booklet). Keep one copy of exam booklet for each administration.
- Compiles Test Critique for later review and consideration.
- File exam correspondence and applications.
Quality Assurance Procedures
Junior and management staff meet bi-monthly during the exam cycle. These meetings should document action items and a log kept to identify consistent issues.
Any issues that should arise in the error of handling an application or exam should immediately be escalated to the COO and the Chair of the Certification Council. The scenario will be detailed and proper course of action determines.
The test administrator transmits exam data to the certification staff who sends the data files, any paper answer sheets and candidate data to Psychometrician via secure overnight shipping for scanning, scoring, and analysis. The Psychometrician prepares the preliminary statistical analysis of the examination and recommends (or flags) items to be reviewed because of questionable performance and for possible action, such as deletion from scoring. The report is forwarded to the Certification Council Chair to review and discuss with the Chair of the Examination Development Committee. The Chair designates members of the Certification Council to participate in the test review. The same individual who participate in the exam construction participate in the post test review.
A conference call is scheduled at a time designated by the Chair of the Examination Development Committee for designated members of the exam construction team, and the Psychometrician (or exam consultant) to discuss the preliminary test results, review flagged items to determine any items for deletion or re-keying for final test scoring. The Psychometrician then prepares score reports for each examinee. The Psychometrician also prepares the program reports and a written report of the Certification Exam Results for distribution at the Certification Council Meeting.
A score report is disseminated to each candidate, showing her overall percentage score, the percentage pass-fail cut score, and the pass-fail outcome. The candidate score report also displays, per competency, the number of items scored and the number of items answered correctly, which identifies the candidate’s raw score. In 2017, the report added a caveat regarding cautious interpretation of the domain scores because their small number of items are less reliable than their overall exam score. The score report is the same for passing and failing candidates. For failing candidates, it can be very useful in preparing for a future form of the exam. For passing candidates, the score report can guide continuing education.
Two reliability indices are computed for each exam: KR-20 and Kappa. The KR-20 index computes the consistency of scores, while the Kappa index computes the consistency of pass-fail outcomes. The KR-20 index is typically at 0.85 or higher, while the Kappa index is typically above 0.60.
Prevention of scoring errors is handled by built-in redundancy. In scoring the exam, candidate scores generated by Lamaze’s CBT provider are compared with scores calculated by Lamaze’s psychometrician. While the psychometrician-calculated scores will likely differ slightly from the CBT provider’s scores due to flawed items being deleted and possible miskeyed items being rekeyed, any score disparities should be within 2 percentage points. Any disparity wider than that would call into question the validity of scores and would therefore lead to a re-calculation of all scores prior to dissemination.
Final Review of Examination Results
After the final scoring of the examination the results are forwarded to the Chair of the Certification Council for final review before release.
Candidate Notification of Examination Results
After the final results of the examination are approved by the Chair of the Certification Council, certification staff posts exam results in the certification center private dashboard for each candidate. An email is sent to all exam candidates indicating that initial exam results can be found in their dashboard. Each candidate’s computer record is updated to indicate whether he or she passed or failed the examination, and the appropriate pass/fail letter, score report is loaded in the certification center. Candidates who have passed will be directed to where they can print out their certification card and candidates who failed will be offered the opportunity to speak with a member of the certification council to give them tips on studying for the next exam should they choose to retake the exam.
Candidates who do not successfully pass the certification exam, in any language, may apply to retake the exam at any time during the registration period. Candidates can retake the test beginning at the next exam administration and there is no limit on the amount of times a candidate can retake the exam. Since the administrations are 6-7 months apart and there is a unique test for each administration with 30 percent new items there is little to no risk for recall bias.
Preparing and Distributing Program Statistics
The Psychometrician provides a statistical report on pass/fail rates by program. The Certification staff forwards a report to each program comparing their program statistics with the overall statistics. Staff also forwards a comparative analysis of program statistics to the Chairs of the Certification Council, Program Accreditation Committee, and Education Council Chair.
All candidates, proctors, staff and certification council members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. In order to maintain confidentiality, examination scores will only be conveyed in writing to the respective candidate through their secure access to the online Lamaze certification center. No examination results will be conveyed over the phone, faxed or emailed. Scores for a particular candidate will only be released to their respective program if they have made a written request to that effect. Only the mean score and pass/fail rate of all candidates taking a particular examination will be released to the respective Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program. The scores will be mailed to the programs within 2 weeks of the candidates receiving their scores.
Follow Up Correspondence
All new LCCE educators receive a welcome communication with recertification, continuing education opportunities, licensing program information, press release, and information on how to print their certification card.
Announcement of New LCCE Educators
A list of new LCCE educators of each administration is submitted to the editor of Inside Lamaze for recognition in an upcoming issue and posted on the website. Additionally, exam stats will be posted for public reporting on the website after each exam administration.
Approved: March, 1996
Updated: June, 2002; June, 2006; April, 2012; June, 2017