Certification Essay - KSA Criteria

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

This article focuses on the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) criteria. It will also demonstrate one method of incorporating KSAs into our essay outline.

According to the latest application booklet (May 2012), there are nine KSAs. They are:

  • Develop a solution for the stated problem.
  • Prevention activities.
  • Mitigation phase.
  • Preparedness phase.
  • Response phase.
  • Recovery phase.
  • The organization and the environment in which it operates.
  • Codes, legislation, regulations, plans, policies or procedures that impact the disaster/emergency management function.
  • Skill in written communication as evidenced by the essay that demonstrated your ability to present information in a logical, clear manner.
  • When writing to these KSAs, do not write about them specifically. The essay is not about prevention or mitigation. It is about defining a problem based on the scenario and then describing how you would solve the problem using the various KSAs. It is problem solving and communication – two skills required of all successful managers.

Scoring KSAs

Scoring the KSAs is made on a scale of 0-2. Zero means the Commissioners did not see the KSA covered in the essay or its coverage was very minimal. One means the coverage was adequate. Two means the coverage was in depth. The Commission does not have guidelines specifying where the dividing line is between numbers. Each Commissioner makes that decision based on the entire essay. That is why at least two Commissioners review each essay, with many essays receiving three reviews before a final score is rendered. This ensures a fair review and a fair score for the candidate.

You do not have to address each KSA to pass the essay requirement. However, your chances of succeeding increase tremendously if you do. Assuming your essay covers all six design elements, you must obtain at least 12 points from covering the KSAs. With nine KSAs available, and covering all nine of them, at least three KSAs will have to be covered in depth. Plan for it. Do it when you write your first draft. Verify it during the editing.

Simple Beginning Outline

Adding the KSAs to our beginning outline from last month – our outline now might look like this:

  • Introduction.
    • Brief overview of the organization and environment leading to the problem.
  • The Problem.
    • Specify the problem to be solved.
    • Organization and environment.
    • Codes, legislation, policies, etc., that impact the problem.
  • The Objective.
    • Specify the objective or objectives that when achieved will solve the stated problem.
  • Necessary Actions (to achieve objectives).
    • Preparedness activities – hazard analysis, plans, training, exercising.
    • Response activities – EOC, ICS.
    • Recovery activities – short-term, long-term.
    • Mitigation activities – planning, tied to response and recovery.
    • Integrate codes, legislation, policies, etc.
  • Intended Outcome.
    • Specify the intended outcome(s) after achieving our objectives.
    • Describe what success looks like.
  • Human Resources.
    • Specify human resources necessary to achieve objective(s).
    • Possibly organization and environment.
    • Possibly codes, legislation, policies, etc.
  • Material and Financial
  • Resources.
    • Specify material and financial resources necessary to achieve objective(s).
    • Possibly organization and environment.
    • Possibly codes, legislation, policies, etc.
  • Conclusion.
    • Summarize the main points.
    • Connect back to introduction.
    • Maybe repeat goal(s) and objective(s).
    • Or suggest results or consequences.

Signed Verification Statement

The first KSA – solving the problem – is ensured through our application of the next six KSAs in the body paragraph narrative. The last KSA – skill in written communication – is ensured during our editing process. Therefore, these two KSAs are not listed in the outline.

A critical point to know is that this outline is only the beginning of our essay and is subject to change as we go through the writing process. The outline is a guide to keep our thinking on track and not get pulled into tangential issues. For example, we do not want to make this essay a discussion on the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). We probably do want to include a brief discussion on how the NDRF helps to solve our problem.

Once we define our problem, we then begin refining our outline. So next month we will describe a problem to solve and demonstrate one method of refining our essay outline.

IAEM Bulletin, February 2013

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