A Look at ‘Certification: The ICE Handbook, 3rd Edition’

By James Henderson, PhD, ICE Handbook Editor  

From the day the first edition of Certification: The ICE Handbook arrived in the mail, it occupied a place within easy reach on my desk so I could consult it as I fielded questions from clients and others about how credentialing should best be done. That was 1996, so it was actually the NOCA Handbook. I referred to it so often that I had to order a new copy. Then, in 2009, the second edition came out. It served my needs as well as the first had, but it covered a few more topics. After reading it, I suggested that my employer order several dozen copies to use in orienting new staff. We also gave copies to organizations that were interested in starting a certification program or that had not yet found their way to ICE. 

I still have my copies of both editions. Their pages are worn, smudged from dirty fingers. Post-it notes color the top and side edges of the pages. I regard the editors of the first two editions with great respect for having compiled such an informative and practical resource — technically correct, helpful to the most experienced in the credentialing community and illuminating to new people. These editions of the ICE Handbook have played a significant role in directing the growth of the credentialing community toward practices that have made credentials more and more meaningful.

Given the growth in the size, sophistication and impact of credentialing, I found it daunting to undertake responsibility for the third edition of the ICE Handbook, but I took comfort in knowing there were outstanding people willing to offer their expertise as advisory group members and chapter authors. The advisory group gave feedback to me as the content framework for the book took shape. They also counseled me on strategy and helped to solve challenges that occasionally developed.


These editions of the ICE Handbook have played a significant role in directing the growth of the credentialing community toward practices that have made credentials more and more meaningful.


Fifty-three knowledgeable and experienced professionals willingly agreed to the arduous work of researching and writing the handbook’s 30 chapters. The chapter authors are expert credentialing staff, psychometricians, attorneys and industry consultants. This team was augmented with a highly proficient copy editor and ICE staff support. With a team like this, who could fail? Because of their great expertise and hard work, I know that the third edition will be a valuable resource for the community. 

The book, available for the first time at the ICE Exchange last month, has five major sections. The first section describes drivers that shape the context for credentialing. It addresses concepts related to purpose and stakeholder interests, and summarizes law and accreditation. The section on governance and management presents helpful information on business planning, governance, policy and quality assurance, and it gives an overview of how to research and establish eligibility criteria and key considerations in international certification. The third section addresses test development, psychometrics, scoring and documentation, as well as test administration, disability accommodations and security. This section includes a thorough chapter on guidance for small programs. Recertification is the topic of the fourth section, focusing on key considerations in program design, measuring continuing competence and evaluating program effectiveness. Finally, the last several chapters address technology as it is used in credentialing, innovation and what the future may hold for credentialing.

The third edition addresses a broader scope of content than previous editions, with first-time chapters on construct development, business planning and strategy, disability accommodations and other topics. Five chapters drive deeply into law — nine of the chapter authors are attorneys. Familiar topics are addressed in greater detail than previously, with chapters specific to each major step in test development and use. Board members and other volunteers will use this book to understand their role in governance and their responsibilities as consumers of the variety of professional services that support their work. I am confident that the third edition will serve as a reference for experienced credentialing staff and as an important resource for orienting new staff to their work. I am thankful to all who were involved in the development of this new edition, and especially grateful to have been able to serve as editor. 

Get Your Copy of Certification: The ICE Handbook, 3rd Edition 

To learn more about the third edition of Certification: The ICE Handbook visit the ICE website here. Copies are available for purchase, with savings available for bulk orders.

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