The courts have recognized certification of specialists in several forensic sciences, and the National Institute of Justice supported an American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) project to develop written certification tests for five specialties in the field of forensic science--forensic biology, drug identification, fire debris analysis, hair and fiber analysis, and paint and polymer analysis.
Nationwide peer groups in each of the five specialties prepared lists of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to obtain certification. These lists served as framing devices for examination questions solicited from practitioners in the relevant fields. The ABC produced draft test specifications related to the major groups of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Consultants completed test specifications, conducted further training, and performed a technical analysis of about 675 questions to ensure their logic, clarity, and conformance with sensitivity and bias standards. Three specialty examinations (forensic biology, fire debris analysis, and drug identification) were pilot tested at the 1994 American Academy of Forensics meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The General Knowledge Examination developed by the ABC is viewed as the first component of a comprehensive program leading to the certification of DNA and other forensic specialists as fellow or diplomate. Re-certification is done on a 5-year cycle, during which time fellows and diplomates must participate in defined courses and report their professional development activities on an annual basis. Policy implications of certification in DNA and other forensic specialties are briefly discussed.
Date Published: July 1, 1995
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