Clearing the Air on the CCDE Practical Beta Exam

As part of the CCDE Beta Team, I have spoke on numerous occasions with the CCDE Program Team at Cisco and serve as their unofficial, external spokesman for the CCDE Beta process (reference the previous blogs I have done on the CCDE):

Insight on the New Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) and Network Infrastructure Architect Certification

Insight on the New Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) - Part II

Insight on the New Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) - Part III

Took the CCDE Written Beta Test Today

Separating Network Design and the CCIE

More Thoughts on Network Engineers and the CCDE

Will Cisco's Master Architect Certification Test Leadership?

CCDE Written Goes Live. I Passed. Can You?

So I received a few phone calls this week from Cisco about my blog on Sunday about the CCDE Practical beta exam being cancelled. Cisco wanted to clarify their intent. The message that was sent in the e-mails was not intended to say the CCDE did not require a beta test because it was going to be perfect from the beginning. Nor was Cisco's intent to take lots of money from initial test takers when the actual practical goes live in the fall, as a comment to my blog implied. I think we can all agree Cisco has better ways to make money. Cisco's reasons for cancelling the practical beta are based more around how the actual CCDE practical will be administered and scored. This paragraph from last week's e-mail touches on that:

Due to program changes and feature enhancements, we have removed the need to deliver a large scale BETA version of the CCDE practical exam. The nature of the CCDE practical exam delivery will enable us to move forward with our first delivery in a production environment without the need to develop a “cut score” in the traditional way we do with our current exams. Also, the exclusivity and low volume of the CCDE practical exam enables us to control the delivery environment so we can offer improved security and more meaningful test results to our candidates.

Essentially, the CCDE practical will be different from other exams you've come to know, including CCIE Labs. So, a "traditional" beta test doesn't make sense in this case. That being said, Cisco will hold an official beta test but it will be of a different nature than what people are used to. Only qualified candidates will be able to participate in the practical exam beta. That means candidates will have to pass the written exam before they can register to take the practical beta. Also, the opportunity to take the beta test will first be given to the beta candidate pool as they are the people who signed on to be "active beta participants"; early adopters in the certification program that are actively communicating and giving the program team feedback on their experience with the CCDE certification process. Cisco also provided me an official response from the CCDE Program team:

It’s too simplistic to say that Cisco and the CCDE program team will not test the practical exam of the CCDE certification. The CCDE credential is Cisco’s newest premiere certification that will assess Sr. level Network Designers and Architects. An evolutionary aspect of this “high stakes” certification is that it is being developed with internal as well as external stakeholders and subject matter experts. The practical exam includes an assessment of job role scenarios that Sr. level Designers and Architects are expected to perform in their roles, such as requirements gathering and delivering architectural work products. In as such, this represents the ability for exam development team at Cisco to introduce new tools and references to the exam – which will make for a more complete and realistic assessment experience. The CCDE is a pioneer certification in how the exam will be delivered; therefore extensive testing of the delivery environment and content will be administered and measured. Cisco will hold a “beta” delivery of the practical exam in October (Location TBD). All aspects and parts of this new exam will be internally tested prior to the beta delivery. Beta candidates that are qualified will be invited to participate in the beta delivery. Cisco maintains a premiere certification portfolio that is created by the industry’s premiere exam development and delivery professionals working in conjunction with highly experienced subject matter experts and the latest assessment technologies and best practices available. CCDE Program team – Learning at Cisco

Now, I can't say what the format and delivery of the CCDE practical will be, but that will come out soon. Rest assured though, all will be happy.

More >From the Field blog entries:

CCDE Practical Beta Test Cancelled

Quick Thoughts on the New Nexus 5000

Don't Split That OSPF Area

What Goes Into a Written Network Architecture?

I Can Fix Anything With a Tunnel

A Day in the Life....

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