Certificates or Credentials for ESL Level Attainment?

Hello colleagues, Recently, I was asked an interesting question related to credentials or certificates based on ESL level attainment. Are there any states or programs offering credentials based on an individual's NRS Educational Functioning Level gains?  If so, please share your experiences.

The thinking behind the question is: The NRS ESL levels are nationally recognized levels and descriptors, with nationally recognized tests for the assessment of level attainment.  A credential based on NRS learning gains could offer, for example, a way to communicate with employers regarding their employees’ language and communication skills, a vocabulary for discussing students’ strengths and needs.  An ESL level certificate has the potential to show that someone is making progress toward, or ready for and able to participate in that industry-recognized credential or training program. While the certificate wouldn’t be industry-recognized, it could support (stack up to) an industry-recognized credential.

What do members think about the possibilities?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment & AELL CoPs



I think this is a wonderful idea! We get many requests for certificates at the end of semester/program year. At one time, up until four to five years ago, we issued certificates to all of our students at the end of the year in May/June. Now, due to time and budget constraints, we only issue to students who request them. We also found that we were printing many certificates for students who didn't want them or didn't care one way or the other. We usually include number of classroom hours completed and NRS level gains. It is a great encouragement tool to many students who are serious about making progress.

Hi Gee and all, I agree that issuing certificates or some kind of credential -- Mike Cruse asks about digital badges -- is a great idea. A certificate of participation, such as my program has done for years can be meaningful to students. However, if we worked on ways to communicate the value to employers, this would clearly be much more valuable.

I'm eager to hear if programs are doing this and what members think of the potential for creating credentials for this purpose. What ideas do member have for how to go about doing so?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment & AELL CoPs

I'm curious whether any programs offer digital certificates, or badges, instead of - or addition to - paper certificates?  Specifically, I'm wondering whether programs find these are more useful to learners when demonstrating proficiency for jobs, or other employment training programs?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator