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Development of Specialty Examinations Leading to Certification in Criminalistics: Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
236 pages
Publication Series

This American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) grant finalized a National Certification Program for forensic scientists who work in crime laboratories; the grant was used to complete specialty examination development and validation.


The ABC Certification Program sets minimum requirements for the education, training, and knowledge of examiners who work in key forensic science areas; these areas are forensic biology, drug identification, fire debris analysis, and trace evidence (hairs, fibers, and paints and polymers). The required knowledge, skills, and abilities were developed by subject-area specialists from around the Nation. These specialists met for training in test-development and question-item writing. Written tests were assessed for scientific content, bias, clues, and structuring. Pilot examinations were given at national and regional association meetings, and passing scores were calculated. Satisfactory completion of proficiency-testing showed an individual's ability to handle routine casework. Once achieved, the individual is awarded Fellow status in the ABC. Continuing Education/Professional Development are required for recertification every 5 years. Retesting of the written examination is an option. The ABC Rules of Professional Conduct and Code of Ethics provide clear standards and establish complete "due process" for resolving examination and certification issues. Appended supplementary material

Date Published: January 1, 1995