Child Development Training

child-development-trainingThe New CDA Process

How was the new system created?

The updating of the CDA system began in 2010 as a response to the feedback and suggestions that we received from countless members of the national CDA community. We worked with panels of early childhood subject matter experts, CDA and instructional practitioners, psychometricians and Council staff who contributed their expertise and perspectives on the numerous components of the system, such as writing and testing new exam questions, updating and testing the observation tool, and redesigning the Verification Visit to make it more valuable for Candidates.

Are there two different CDA processes with this new assessment system?

Candidates who applied before June 1, 2013 will complete their assessment process using the old credentialing system (with the Council Representative). All Candidates who apply after June 1, 2013 will earn their credential using the new process.

How did the credentialing process change? The new CDA process adds value to the Candidates’ experiences while retaining many of the familiar aspects of the Council’s framework for determining competency using the 6 CDA Competency Goals and 13 Functional Areas: The CDA Representative and Advisor roles were converted into one role – the CDA Professional Development Specialist (in short, the PD Specialist).

The CDA Exam (formerly the Early Childhood Studies Review) is no longer administered during the Verification Visit by the CDA Representative. Instead, Candidates take the CDA Exam at a time of their choosing at any one of the many convenient PearsonVUE testing centers throughout the country. The Verification Visit includes a Professional Portfolio review, review of training documentation, direct observation, and the opportunity for the Candidate to reflect on their strengths and areas of growth, using the R.O.R. Model™ (Review – Observe – Reflect).

How is the Candidate scored?

the Candidate distributes and collects Family Questionnaires; the Candidate prepares a Professional Portfolio following the outlined requirements, collects documentation, & writes a Professional Philosophy statement and 6 Reflective Statements of Competence; the Candidate is observed working with children; the Candidate completes an exam (at one of the PearsonVUE testing locations). During the Verification Visit, the Specialist determines Recommendation scores in each of the thirteen Functional Areas, using a combination of Portfolio evidence and observable criteria.

The Specialist submits the Recommendations to the Council online. These recommendations, along with the Exam score, are combined by the Council into a final Cumulative Score that will determine the credentialing decision.

Did Competency Goals & Functional Areas change?

No, as the cornerstone of the CDA Assessment Process, both the six Competency Goals and the 13 Functional Areas remain the same.

Is the new system only for the center-based preschool setting?

The new system applies to the following settings: preschool, infant/toddler, family child care, and bilingual endorsement in all these settings.

How much will it cost?

The CDA assessment fee remains $325 until August 31, 2013. Staring September 1, 2013, the CDA assessment fee will be $425.

I heard something about “partnerships”. How can community colleges “partner” with the Council? The Council is ready to partner with local, county and state community college systems. Together we will simplify the CDA process for your students by incorporating your curricula and instructors into the process.

For more information, please email us at

How will the final decision be determined?

Credentialing decisions have always been and continue being based on a combination of many sources of evidence including the observation, exam score and written materials submitted by the Candidate. Once the PD Specialist submits the Competency Recommendation Scores online to the Council, they are combined with the Exam score sent from the PearsonVUE testing site, to create the final Cumulative Score. This Cumulative Score determines the credentialing decision.

What materials are available to help me through the new process?

The Council released the new Competency Standards books. They offer complete details about the new CDA process.

Essentials is being rewritten and is expected to be released mid 2013. Additional assessment support materials for training organizations are under development and will be announced on the website and in the Council newsletter.

Will the Renewal policy change in the new system?

Yes. All Credentials awarded after June 1, 2013 are now valid for three years from the award date. There will be no renewal grace period. The renewal fee will be $100 starting September 1st. Candidates who apply online for their CDA renewal will receive a discount and will pay a $75 renewal fee.

Who is PearsonVUE?

Pearson VUE is the Council’s partner for delivering the CDA Exam at testing centers all over the country. The Council has partnered with Pearson VUE in order to create a more powerful professional development experience for Candidates and a more focused use of the time and expertise of Council Representatives, the Council decided to free up the time they spent proctoring the exam, to instead observe and reflect with each Candidate as “CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialists”.

PearsonVUE was selected because they have testing centers all over the United States.

How to schedule the CDA Exam?

Before scheduling your CDA Exam, you must receive a “Ready to Schedule” notice from the Council. Once you have received this notice you are ready to schedule your CDA Exam. To schedule please visit the Pearson VUE website to find the testing center nearest to you.

What to expect on the new CDA exam?

The CDA Exam has 65 multiple-choice questions – 60 multiple choice questions and 5 scenario questions (with a short narrative and photo). The Candidate will have up to one hour and 45 minutes to complete the exam. The only computer-based skill needed to take the Exam is the ability to point and click a mouse. The exam requires no scrolling, typing or even double-clicking. Click here to review a short exam tutorial and see how easy it will be to complete the CDA Exam at a testing center.

Is the exam harder?

The new CDA Exam includes the same number of questions as the current Early Childhood Studies Review. The questions were written by subject matter and testing experts to reflect current best practices in early childhood education. The main difference is that it is no longer administered by the CDA Representative but, instead, taken at a Pearson VUE testing center.

What days are the PearsonVUE test centers open?

Availability varies from test center to test center. Pearson says that as a general rule, the centers are open Monday through Friday during the normal work hours; however, a handful have opted to stay open on weekends. You should go to the PearsonVUE website to locate sites near you and then check their individual hours of operation.​

Do You Offer Payment Plans? Yes .

If You Have More Questions About The CDA Certificate Program Contact Us at phone (513)-226-8075 to register and or to speak to an advisor


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