The Caviart Group Takes its Bow

Clarence “Buck” Chaffee, the consultant who helped us (hugely!) to launch our certification program, sent out this press release. Take a bow, Buck!

June 3, 2011

For Immediate Release
Clarence “Buck” Chaffee
The Caviart Group

Vienna, VA – The Society for Technical Communication (STC) launched its new international certification program for technical communicators at their annual meeting in May. The program is the first certification for technical communicators. Developed with the guidance of The Caviart Group, the program utilizes an innovative, structured assessment of work samples.

According to Kathryn Burton, CAE, STC’s Executive Director/CEO, The Caviart Group has been invaluable in helping the organization create the certification system and developing the assessment process.

“This is our first certification program and we needed a trusted, independent partner to work with us in creating a valid, legally defensible certification program,” she said. “We engaged The Caviart Group because of their extensive expertise in performance-based assessment and their experience in developing certification programs from the ground up. With their help, we were able to address a myriad of complex questions and develop and launch our program in less than eight months! Our members are very excited about the new credential and we could not be happier with the advice and service that we have received from The Caviart Group.”

Clarence “Buck” Chaffee, President of The Caviart Group, commented on the importance and challenges associated with creating a legally defensible work product assessment process. “STC had determined that they needed a performance examination to assess the complex, high-level skills required of technical communicators. Given the diversity of practice areas and communications techniques, a portfolio assessment process was desired,” said Chaffee. “The problem with traditional portfolio review processes is that each submission is different and may or may not exhibit the skills you want to assess. Different submissions are also of varying degrees of complexity and it is hard to ensure that all candidates are being evaluated for the same level of skill.”

According to Chaffee, The Caviart Group solved these problems and ensured content validity by conducting a study to define the skills required to perform the job and then defining a process through which candidates submit portions of work samples with written commentaries to demonstrate and support their claim that they possess the required skills.

“This is much different than a typical portfolio review in which raters must plow through volumes of work to try to assess a candidate’s abilities,” says Chaffee. “Instead, we require candidates to create a number of short, very specific submissions. These submissions must demonstrate specific skills and must be accompanied by a written commentary that explains how the work sample demonstrates those skills. Both the work sample and the commentary are evaluated.”

To ensure uniform scoring and guard against bias, The Caviart Group created a scoring system that electronically distributes each submission to a number of subject matter expert raters. In total, candidates may have as many as 18 subject matter experts involved in assessing their work.

“We have created human-scored examinations for more than 30 years,” said Chaffee. “This assessment process has been built on that experience to provide an assessment that is fair and accurate and will stand up to all testing industry standards. We are very pleased that STC selected The Caviart Group to help them with this very interesting and challenging project.”

About STC

STC is the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. The Society’s members span the field of the technical communication profession and reach across every industry and continent. In fact, the Society has members in almost 50 countries and is continuing to grow rapidly outside of North America and Europe.

Through a growing global community, the Society and its members set the global standards for technical communication. The Society’s award-winning publications, Intercom and Technical Communication, are widely read in the field of technical communication, and its annual conference is one of the most-attended technical communication events of the year.


The Caviart Group is a partnership of leading experts in the field of certification and testing with extensive experience in managing large and complex national and international projects. The principals have more than 50 years of combined experience in creating and managing professional certification programs and in designing, developing, and administering occupational and professional examinations. They have been responsible for the examination of more than one million candidates in the U.S. and abroad in both paper-and-pencil and computer-based formats.

The company specializes in technology and advanced testing. Its broad service categories include certification and assessment services such as job analyses; examination design, development and delivery; psychometrics and examination audits; and business consulting services including strategic planning, new product development, and certification management system design and implementation.

The principals have conceived, developed, and grown several very successful national and international certification and licensure programs and are uniquely qualified and experienced with both traditional and cutting-edge technology.

The Caviart Group brings to every project not only the demonstrated experience and skill necessary to perform the tasks, but also the qualities of professionalism-character, integrity and judgment-needed to ensure the credibility of results. We also provide exceptional customer care and service. Our goal is to become an integral part of our client’s team and to establish a long-term relationship.

Current Projects

We are currently helping clients develop interactive simulated equipment in the medical and engineering technology fields. We are also creating video-based items, video capture of performance tests, audio response items, distributed scoring systems, advanced candidate management systems, and we are helping several clients create new certification programs from the ground up.

Contact us today to see what The Caviart Group can do for you!

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Copyright 2011, The Caviart Group, LLC

Published by Steven Jong

I am a retired technical communicator, a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), a former STC board member, and chair of the first STC Certification Commission. I occasionally blog about these and other topics.

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