EE Certification - Important Definitions


Glossary of Selected Terms


1.  General use: Approval of an educational program according to defined standards.

2.  As related to NAAEE: Status awarded to an Environmental Education Certification Program that has demonstrated compliance with the Standards for the Accreditation of EE Certification Programs set forth by the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Assessment—(verb or noun)

The processes or instruments used to both gather and score evidence on skills and knowledge acquired by individual candidates. Methods for gathering and scoring assessment evidence include, but are not limited to: tests (e.g., true/false, multiple choice, matching, short/restricted essay, and longer essay items) with accompanying answer and keys; and alternative assessments, interviews and observations forms with accompanying scoring tools (e.g., checklists, rating scales, or rubrics). Assessment results (evidence and scores) are used primarily to guide formative and summative decisions about candidate progress toward achievement of Certification Program competencies. On a secondary basis, assessment results can and should be used for program evaluation purposes.


A process, often voluntary, by which individuals who have demonstrated the level of knowledge and skill required in the profession are identified to the public. 

Certification Program—

The standards, policies, procedures, assessment instruments, and related products and activities through which individuals are publicly identified as qualified in a profession, occupation, role, or skill.

Certifying Agent—

The organization that offers and/or operates a Certification Program. 


The specific kinds of knowledge, ability, or expertise that make one well-qualified or capable to deliver high-quality environmental education. 

Continuing Competence—

The ability to provide service at specified levels of knowledge and skill, not only at the time of initial certification but throughout an individual’s professional career. 

Continuing Education—

Activities, often short courses or workshops, in which certified professionals engage to receive credit for ongoing professional development, maintaining and broadening competence, and renewing certification. 

Core Competencies—

As approved by the NAAEE Board, core competencies are essential requirements for an individual to become certified as a professional environmental educator. 


A systematic process for determining the merit, value, or worth of someone’s performance (the evaluee, such as a certification candidate) or something (the evaluand, such as the Certification Program and its features, including policies, plans, materials, processes, and records). See Assessment (of evaluees/candidates) and Program Evaluation (of evaluands/programs). 

Professional Certification—

The voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time-limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria. It is the vehicle that a profession or occupation uses to differentiate its members from non-members, or among members with differing levels of knowledge and ability, using competencies, developed through consensus-driven process, based on existing legal and psychometric requirements. The holder of a professional certification is called a certificant.


Requirements and procedures established as part of a Certification Program that certificants must meet in order to ensure continuing competence and renew their certification. See Continuing Competence and Continuing Education. 


A scoring tool that describes that identifies criteria for and describes benchmarks at different levels of performance for use in quantifying a learner’s attributes and performance. 


A process by which an instrument is self-administered for the specific purpose of providing performance feedback rather than a pass/fail decision, usually for the purpose of self-improvement.