Re: certification

Subject: Re: certification
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 10:53:11 -0500

Certification? Again? Has it been a year already? My, how time flies!

>If there is another reliable measure of competency in a field than the
>four year degree no longer becomes the only yardstick. The rules are

Never saw a test yet that was a reliable measure of competency in anything
except test-taking. Back in my military days (or should that be daze?) I
took *lots* of tests. In fact, performance on a test was a requirement for
promotion. And there were some general rules governing standardized testing
which came to light:

1) T/F question? Odds are about 3:1 it's True.
2) If most multiple-choice questions have four answers but this one has
five, it's probably the fifth choice.
3) If one answer is significantly longer than the rest, it's probably
4) If "all of the above" is not always a choice, more likely than not it's
the right answer whenever it appears.
5) Exception to #4: "none of the above" trumps "all."

I took a couple of CLEP tests on subjects I didn't know that much about,
using these rules and some others as guidelines, and got college credit for
subjects I had never studied. I take tests quite well; always have, always
will. It's a knack (I won't bore you with what I did to the IQ tests I
took, but I'll cheerfully admit I don't believe the numbers) I've had since
childhood. Has no bearing on reality, far as I can see.

Ah, I hear you cry. These TW tests will *not* be standardized. OK, so
they'll be expensive instead (if it can't be corrected by a computer, it'll
be labor-intensive). So the well-heeled gain an advantage over the
not-so-well-heeled. Guess that's the American Ideal at work so I shouldn't
criticize it, but it's still no guarantee of better quality than
uncertified writers, though of course it'll be used as such.

And, of course, it'll be subjective. So if the person correcting your test
happens to be of the old "two-spaces-after-every-period" school, and you
use one, what are the odds your paper will be subjected to a more stringent
examination? After all, if you don't know that most basic of all rules,
there have to be a lot of other things wrong with your writing as well, eh?
Enough nits and your paper dies the death of a thousand cuts.

>The Many Paths scenerio is good for companies; they keep needing trained
>workers for jobs that didn't exist three years prior.

Naivete is charming. Companies are not looking for trained workers. They
are looking for reasons to discard your resume. All they want to do is cut
the size of the stack of papers they have to look at. You're not certified,
but you have this portfolio you want me to see? Tough, there's two other
applicants who are certified and have no portfolio to show at all. If I
look at your portfolio, I might just have to think and make a judgement
call, and if I'm wrong I'll get in trouble for it. OTOH, if I skip that and
call the two certificates in for interviews, I can hide behind the paper;
it's not my fault if the hire doesn't work out.

Follow the scenario out to its logical conclusion. Companies who think like
the above scenario are in the majority, and are probably not always
pleasant places to work. *Not* being certified keeps you out of those
places. Have we just created a disincentive for certification? ;{>} (You
realize, now that I've typed "disincentive" [twice!] I'm going *have* to go
wash out my keyboard with soap.)

>The real question isn't certification; it is going to happen. The real
>question is the quality of the certification. So what are the proactive

It's inevitable, so we might as well just lay back and enjoy it, eh? (Yes,
I purposefully phrased it as pejoratively as possible; yell at me, not the
list.) Inevitability is the *worst* excuse for supporting anything. The
triumph of the Soviet system was supposeed to be inevitable, as well,
remember? Giving in to the inevitable is nothing but a supreme act of
cowardice, no matter how hard we strive to rationalize it. After all, we
*will* all die, and be worm food. So since that's inevitable, why shouldn't
we all just commit suicide now? Thanks anyway, but I'll take Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What's the best option? No certification. Full Stop. Anything short of that
is a loss for us all.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.


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