Part Two in a Series
by Twila L. Gates, RN, IMC, SCAC

Part one of this series of articles identified the need for complete autonomy for all operations around certification (credentialing board) being separate from the membership side (executive board) of a certifying organization. When we looked at the standards set forth by the NCCA, the certifying program must “protect against undue influence that could compromise the integrity of the certification process.” Therefore, anyone involved in educating coaches for the purpose of realizing a profit–no matter whether the programs are self-study, online, individual or group live delivery methods–may not serve on the credentialing board. To prevent candidates from receiving an unfair advantage, educators may not have access to certification documents nor for the same reason may they administer certification examinations.

So, the question is this: How can we develop these certification examinations without educators who are very knowledgeable about our profession. The answer is: We don’t.

Educators are an essential component, along with expert practitioners and at least one member of the public to develop the body of knowledge for the ADHD Coaching profession. As discussed in the last article, this group of people must include coaches who have acquired their knowledge in various ways without preference for particular schools or associations with other organizations. Coaches with ICF or IAC credentials are not necessarily preferred, but rather the evaluation of being an expert practitioner or an expert educator is based on number of years experience along with a specified number of hours as well. Five years experience seems to be a common requirement. Hours required usually reflects close to full time work during those five years. There is also typically a requirement that these years of experience and hours must have occurred in the preceding five years. In any case, both expert practitioners and expert educators are needed to create the body of knowledge around ADHD Coaching.

PHASE ONE: Job/Practice Analysis (often referred to as a job task analysis or JTA)
Development of the Body of Knowledge (aka: competencies, masteries, etc.)

The following are recommended steps based on NCCA standards, interviews and other research conducted over the past several years.

Step One:

The first phase of development is to document the body of knowledge. According to the NCCA, this is accomplished by doing a “job/practice analysis.” This body of knowledge is broken down into “domains, sub-domains and knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA).”The first step involves the development of each of these areas and is best tackled by working from the bottom up. For example, identifying KSA’s then putting those into sub-domains under which all the KSA’s fall. Then domains are identified by grouping the sub-domains together.
These items must all be easily measurable and represent appropriate levels of KSA’s for the certification being offered Various definitions or criteria are drafted, such as requirements of an “expert practitioner,” “expert educator,” etc. It is important to recognize that these are standard KSA’s, not requirements you would expect an expert to possess. This step is completed by the credentialing board including people from various learning backgrounds and represents a draft and not a final document.

Step Two:

Once step one has been achieved, a larger group of educators, expert practitioners and consumer(s) need to review, modify and obtain consensus regarding the body of knowledge. It is essential that this group is comprised of a diverse representation that is equally weighted by various schools, other learning paths, certifications, etc. Based on the estimated size of our community, a minimum of 20 people is needed but more might be required to afford equitable stakeholder presence.

This group is responsible for reviewing in detail all KSA’s to be certain that they encompass all KSA’s absolutely necessary to perform at the level of the certification being offered. Definitions are reviewed. There will be disagreements on KSA’s, yet the group is required to come to unanimous conclusions on all items that will move forward to step three. The document completed is still a draft and needs additional steps to achieve finalization.

It was suggested by at least one person I interviewed that this discussion should occur in person rather than a virtual setting as this allows for effective facilitation as needed to move forward on items being debated.

Step Three:

The document identifying domain, sub-domains and KSA’s created in Step Two is then distributed to the larger ADHD Coaching Community in the form of a survey to validate or invalidate each of the KSA’s. This survey would also include some areas for narrative suggestions, ideas and challenges, as well as demographic data.

Step Four:

The survey results must be thoroughly examined by the same group of people outlined in Step Two. Adjustments are made according to the results of the survey and require a unanimous decision. Depending on the percentage of invalidated items, suggestions and/or criticisms, another survey may very likely be required to obtain final validation and completion of phase one.


The finalization of the job/practice analysis must ensure that documentation of all processes has occurred and that it reflects diligence in creating a body of knowledge that is accepted by most ADHD Coaches. Again, all items must be easily measurable, standardized and reflect the KSA’s of a typical ADHD coach – not of an expert.

Next time, we will look at phase two in developing certification examinations. There are many more steps before the organization will be ready to offer certification based on the job/practice analysis. If you would like me to answer a specific question in the next article, please let me know.

Until then — warm wishes for focus and joy-filled coaching!

Twila L. Gates, RN, IMC, SCAC
PowerSystems ADHD Coaching


National Commission for Certifying Agencies. (2007 ed.)
Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. Retrieved August 24, 2008 from

Standard 2B (pp. 6 & 7)
The governance structure, policies, and procedures must provide for autonomy in decision making regarding important aspects of the certification program, such as eligibility standards; the development, administration, and scoring of the assessment instruments; selection of personnel; and operational processes.

Standard 10 A (p. 10)
A job/practice analysis must be conducted leading to clearly delineated performance domains and tasks, associated knowledge and/or skills, and sets of content/item specifications to be used as the basis for developing each type of assessment instrument (e.g. multiple-choice, essay, oral examination).

Standard 10 : Commentary B (p. 10)
Validation of performance domain, tasks, and associated knowledge and/or skills is typically accomplished by conducting a survey of current certificants and/or individuals providing services or performing a job consistent with the purpose of the credential. It is important to sample widely within the profession, occupation, or role, or among those who use or support a product, to ensure representation in terms of major practice areas. Stakeholders such as educators, supervisors, and employers may be included, as appropriate. An adequate sample size should be used to ensure the estimated level opf measurement error is defensible.

Standard 10 : Commentary C (p. 10)
Analysis of ratings information collected in the survey should determine how and to what degree the performance domain, tasks and associated knowledge and/or skills relate to the purpose of the credential. Linkages to the content of the assessment instruments should be based on the use of ratings data. Empirical algorithms or other psychometric methods used to analyze or combine ratings from different scales should be specified. Analyses of demographic information collected from survey participants should also be examined to evaluate representativeness of the findings.

Standard 10 : Commentary F (p. 11)
Suggested evidence to document that the Standard has been met requires a complete report summarizing the results of the job/practice analysis, which may include: See reference for complete listing.

Additional Resources of Interest:
NOCA – Membership Organization for Certifying Organizations

NOCA Membership Listing by occupation