Welcome to aea365! Please take a moment to review our new community guidelines. Learn More.

Elizabeth Yuanjing Wilcox on Certification of Evaluators

Hi, this is Elizabeth Yuanjing Wilcox, a doctoral candidate of Evaluation Studies at University of Minnesota. Here are my two cents on credentialing and certification of evaluators.

In light of Canadian Evaluation Society’s success in launching the Credentialed Evaluator (CE) designation in 2010, AEA started wondering about instituting a certification and/or credentialing program in America. This is not the first time that AEA explored this idea.

In 1995, a memorandum was submitted to the AEA Board suggesting development of a voluntary system of certification. A Task Force was then formed to conduct a literature review and a national survey of AEA membership. A report was completed in 1997. AEA members split on the idea. So did the AEA leadership. The questions were around legal issues and the possibility of law suits.

On the journey toward credentialing and certification, CES started late but traveled further than AEA. What sets these two professional organizations apart? Why are credentialing and/or certification such conundrums for the field of evaluation?

Hot Tips:

1.      Consider the challenges that confront any effort to develop a viable evaluator certification system. Take a look at Worthen’s (1999) article, Critical Challenges Confronting Certification of Evaluators. To summarize, the challenges include (1) determining what basic approach to certification should be taken and what type of evidence is most compelling; (2) reaching agreement on what evaluation is and what core knowledge and skills all evaluators should possess; (3) constructing professionally and legally defensible certification procedures and instruments; and (4) gathering support for a mandatory certification process.

2.      Differentiate terms, such as licensure, credential, certification, and accreditation. Altschuld (2005) provided definitions for each of them.

3.      Be aware of the difference between AEA and CES body. Evaluation in Canada is heavily driven by government. The majority of members of CES are organizationally located in federal, provincial, and municipal government. In contrast, AEA has a heterogeneous body of membership with a clear representation of academics. The difference of membership results in different management in governance and decision making process.


Altschuld, J. W. (2005). Certification, credentialing, licensure, competencies, and the like: Issues confronting the field of evaluation. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 20(2), 157-168.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.