Program Characteristics and Certification Examination Pass Rates: A Statistical Analysis of BACB-Published 2015–2019 Data


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) annually publishes data on the pass rates of institutions with verified course sequences (VCS). The current study analyzed BACB-published data from the years 2015–2019 and explored relations among program mode, number of first-time candidates, and examination pass rates. In a correlation analysis of number of first-time candidates and pass rates, there was a weak negative correlation, indicating that larger numbers of first-time candidates are associated with lower pass rates. Further, statistically significant differences were found among the mean number of first-time candidates, mean pass rates, and mean number of passing first-time candidates across program modes. Campus and hybrid programs had higher mean pass rates than distance programs, whereas distance programs had higher numbers of passing first-time candidates than campus programs. External validity and implications for indicators of program quality are discussed.

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Correspondence to Kendra E. Guinness.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Research Highlights

• Statistical analyses revealed relations among VCS characteristics reported by the BACB and certification examination pass rates.

• A negative correlation between number of first-time candidates and pass rates was detected, though this correlation was extremely weak.

• Mean pass rates were higher for campus and hybrid programs over distance programs, and mean numbers of first-time candidates were higher for distance programs over campus programs.

• Potential explanations for these findings include differences in VCS quality and/or characteristics of students who select different program modes or cohort sizes, and further investigation is needed to clarify the nature of these variables’ influences.

• Additional variables, such as practicum requirements, average class sizes, and average latency to sitting for the examination may also influence an institution’s pass rate, and therefore would be beneficial additions to the BACB’s publications.

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Guinness, K.E., Turner, K.S. Program Characteristics and Certification Examination Pass Rates: A Statistical Analysis of BACB-Published 2015–2019 Data. Behav Analysis Practice (2021).

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  • BACB
  • Certification examination pass rates
  • Distance learning