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CPLP—Never Give Up!


Wed Jan 14 2015

CPLP—Never Give Up!

Although the timing of my pursuit of the certified professional in learning and performance (CPLP) credential was anything but convenient, it was something I needed to do both personally and professionally. At work, I had realized I was merely sustaining my career; I needed a challenge. Additionally, I saw the certification as an opportunity to help me work through my depression over my mom’s death.  Having studied the certification requirements, I knew it would be difficult. I was wrong! It was downright grueling. 

I missed a passing score by one point. The area in question was quality or quantity of project relationships: The evidence I submitted did not support or reject my proficiency in that area. Indignant, I decided to appeal my score. In my 500-word notice, I alleged that the ATD Certification Institute had surely made a mistake in evaluating my work. 


Yet I knew even before I wrote the appeal that my failure wasn’t due to any wrongdoing, corrupt scoring, or conspiracy on the Institute’s part. Rather, I had not presented a compelling case with sufficient evidence. I was just too close to my own work to admit that the fault lay with me. 

I read in the CPLP Certification Handbook that it is unethical for raters to make connections or assumptions when the evidence is not there. Implications don’t count. Work products are reviewed by two independent raters, and if the first two raters show substantial disagreement in scoring, a third rater is brought in for arbitration. This methodology makes for equitable performance assessments. 

Out of a sense of self-preservation, I had initially visualized the Institute as an aloof group of people who secretly desired to make my life miserable. Sorry, good people of the ATD Certification Institute! Please allow me to explain: Following those strict guidelines and demonstrating your workplace performance improvement, only to be disqualified, feels very personal. It’s tough and I reveled in denial for a time. 

I cannot give enough appreciation for the wonderful support I received from everyone throughout this process. There was Diane Daly, who assisted me with registration questions; Virginia Sawall (coordinator, education and credentialing), who sent a kind note of congratulations when I passed the Knowledge Exam; Pat Byrd (senior project manager, credentialing), who thoughtfully addressed my work product questions; and Jennifer Naughton (senior director, credentialing), who chose words with sensitivity when my appeal could not be substantiated. 

When I went through the certification process a second time, I noted the measures taken to maintain the integrity of the scoring process. The second time work-scoring results were emailed, I knew it was favorable. Instead of one email, I received several. That proved to be a positive indicator.


While I’m still exploring what I gained from this experience, I can give you some practical advice:

  • Never give up! Take short breaks. Collect your thoughts.

  • Seek advice from people who have their CPLP. Resources to support your success are abundant.

  • If it helps, you can build your work product with a courtroom setting in mind. When your name is called, approach the bench and tell a meaningful story. Plan ahead what you will say, rehearse it out loud frequently, and make your case well organized, strong, and concise. Label your evidence exactly as outlined in the guidelines. Decide your main points and stick to those, referring to evidence that supports your position. Visualize the panel—that is, the Institute raters—being supportive, and remember they have only what you give them to make their decision. 

Achieving the CPLP designation was worth it. If you choose to go for the CPLP credential, you’ll be able to say you’re better off having had the experience.  

Learn more about the CPLP Certification.

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