Back in the Wild West days of editing (about the late 1980s or so), there were no competency tests for editors and few if any educational programs designed to serve the needs of the publishing industry. Some members of the then Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada were looking for objective ways to demonstrate that editors did indeed possess specialized and valuable skills, but many questions arose as to how to do this in a fair and impartial manner. Now, more than two decades later, the certification program is giving Canadian editors the chance to prove their worth.
This program would not have been possible without the input of the many editors who contributed their time and expertise, and the Editors’ Association of Canada is grateful to each and every one of these hardworking volunteers. Today we would like to extend a special thanks to six EAC members in particular whose long-term commitment and deep understanding of the editing process helped create an ambitious program that shows how much pride editors take in their work. To this end, EAC has awarded Lee d’Anjou, Peter Moskos, Maureen Nicholson, Jonathan Paterson, Frances Peck and Ruth Wilson designations of Honorary Certified Professional Editor.
Lee d’Anjou recalls that in the late 1980s, the executive was asked to develop a test for editorial competence. Initially, there were concerns about how to administer the test and even what to test for, and fears that members who didn’t pass the test or who simply didn’t take it would be stigmatized. However, development of prototype tests began shortly, and once Professional Editorial Standards was published in 1991, the committee had a firm basis for further developing the test. Several years later, the EAC membership voted for certification in English editing, with the stipulation that membership not depend on certification. When Maureen Nicholson and Peter Moskos asked Lee to contribute her skills and expertise, she agreed and took on many tasks, including speaking about certification at the EAC conference, sitting on the test-setting and marking subcommittees and overseeing the pilot test administration.
Peter Moskos was recruited to help develop the certification program and became co-chair of the Certification Steering Committee (CSC) in 2001. Initially, he met with other committee members over drinks to discuss the then-amorphous concept of the program. Their first priority was to develop a set of policies and then to create the prototype tests. Peter also developed a business plan, which he presented to the national executive, gave a presentation at the annual EAC conference and chaired the exemplar booklet subcommittee. Some of the greatest challenges that came up during the process involved funding working sessions and addressing members’ fears of cheating and confidentiality. However, now that many concerns have been laid to rest and the program is officially self-sustaining, Peter is pleased to see the increasing number of editors who have passed all four tests and proudly states, “I had the opportunity to work with some of the best editors in Canada.”
Maureen Nicholson became national professional development chair when she was put in charge of developing the certification program. In 2001 and 2002, she chaired the certification operations subcommittee, which was responsible for establishing the best procedures for running the tests and ensuring that the certification program could continue on an ongoing basis. Additionally, Maureen coined the term “Certified Professional Editor.” As she recalls, it was a long process from start to finish. As tends to happen with large ambitious projects, the committee and national executive both encountered a few “rabbit holes”; maintaining momentum and focus required tremendous effort. But the effort was worthwhile, and Maureen was pleased to work with “many smart, hard-working editors and staff [who] contributed to the success of the certification program.”
Jonathan Paterson, the first co-chair of the certification steering committee, also served on the exemplar booklet subcommittee, the marking subcommittee and the test-setting subcommittee. He had prior experience as a second-language teacher and had edited several ESL tests as well as a manual for ESL testing for Quebec teachers, so he already had some ideas about how a useful test of language skills ought to work and how it should be marked. Additionally, he found that his ideas meshed with the ideas of other members on the committee who had teaching experience. There were many bumps along the road, but Jonathan admits his biggest fear was that the cost of the process was too high and so the program might never become self-sustaining. Fortunately, the certification program’s success has put this fear to rest.
Frances Peck’s involvement began when she volunteered to spend a week “cloistered in a convent outside Montreal” with a selection of strong editors to help develop the pilot tests, and it was at that time that she became truly convinced that certification would be a real boon to the profession. Later, she joined the steering committee and served as co-chair and then chair from 2003 to 2005; she was also involved in developing marking schemes, assisted with test analysis and compiled the Certification Long-Range Plan in 2011. One of the greatest challenges was the fact that no one had developed a program quite like it, so the committee had to work hard to decide how to structure, administer and mark the tests from scratch. Frances is “proud of EAC” and of the committee of dedicated professionals who devoted years of their lives to developing “a ground-breaking program that editors outside Canada are looking to emulate.”
Ruth Wilson volunteered to help develop the pilot tests for a week at a convent in Montreal, where she met many other highly qualified editors from the association. Ruth recalls that there was a lot of hard work to be done, but she found it quite rewarding. Later, when Frances Peck asked her to join the steering committee, she agreed. During her tenure, she helped develop test content, sat on the pricing committee, acted as a marking analyst and served as committee chair in 2005 and 2006, and as co-chair in the year following to help her successor transition into the role. She was concerned about the misinformation that was going around about certification during this time, and she and the other committee members found it quite challenging to address these concerns, given that they were all very busy just trying to get the program up and running. She greatly enjoyed the opportunities she had to work with editors from across the nation, and she is gratified to see how many editors are being certified.
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