By Silvia E. Vargas, AICP, LEED AP
AICP Commissioner, Region III
Greetings from the APA National Planning Conference!
To those of you who attended, I hope you had a productive and enjoyable conference. For those who could not be there, do not despair! APA continues to add statistics, keynote summaries, event photos, blog posts, and other relevant conference reports to the newly launched website. Check www.planning.org/conference for the latest information.
For my part, AICP Commission work kept me busy. The AICP Commission held its spring meeting on April 1 and prominent on our agenda was taking action on a series of key initiatives focused on improving and expanding AICP Certification and CM options for our members. Below is a summary of several noteworthy decisions coming from the meeting that you should be aware of:
- We approved the scope of work for a market research study on the value of AICP credentialing programs.
As part of its mission to advocate for the acceptance and recognition of the AICP credential, the commission seeks to learn how various audiences both within and outside the profession (e.g. – employers, elected officials, affiliated professions, and the general public) perceive certification and how well AICP is meeting their expectations.
The market research study will help APA develop a marketing and communications strategy to increase brand awareness of the credential, increase the number of hires with AICP, and foster financial support from employers for their planners’ AICP certification, AICP membership and required continued education – among other goals. The market research study will be supplemented by the results of the recent Jobs Analysis and Salary surveys and will be completed later this year.
- We endorsed moving forward with a proposal to establish the AICP Candidate (AICP-C) program.
The commission’s Membership Committee has been diligently working on a proposal to create a clear path to AICP Certification to meet a variety of goals and action items in the AICP Strategy/Action Plan. Called “AICP Candidate,” the concept is geared towards attracting and retaining more recently graduated student members and new planners, thus growing the AICP and APA’s membership base as a whole. AICP-C members will be expected to follow and be subject to the AICP Code of Ethics.
Implementation details such as required education and years of experience, the lifespan and cost of the designation are still being worked out. It is critical that decisions regarding the AICP-C program are in synch with other APA efforts such as the Student and New Member Task Force initiatives. We also plan to reach out broadly to members for feedback.
- We unanimously voted to approve providing Certification Maintenance (CM) credit for eligible pro bono work.
Over the years, the commission has received encouragement from members to allow credits to be claimed for pro bono activities. The AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct clearly calls for certified planners to “contribute time and effort to groups lacking in adequate planning resources and to voluntary professional activities.” The AICP Commission approved the concept at its February 2016 meeting.
Qualified pro bono service will become another option for self-reported CM credits. AICP members may self-report a maximum of eight CM credits in a two-year reporting period. Moving forward, all of those self-reported CM credits may consist of pro bono activities. One hour of eligible pro bono service will equal one CM credit; the credits must be claimed in one-hour increments.
Prior to earning CM credits for pro-bono work, members will be required to view a short, web-based tutorial which will explain the eligibility criteria.
In addition to taking action on those initiatives, the commission also reviewed progress on the update of the AICP exam. The AICP Exam Committee continues to work towards making May 2017 the first testing widow for the new exam content. The results of the recent Jobs Analysis survey will serve as one of several sources of input to develop new test specifications (exam content outline.) The draft exam content outline will be shared with Professional Development Officers (PDOs) at the next PDO Exchange for comment. Their feedback will help develop new subject matter for the exam. New (or improved) questions will be written based on the revised test specifications.
Stay tuned for additional information –and requests for your input– regarding these programs in the coming months.