New Licensure Examination Update

Posted in Latest News on January 25, 2016.

IHS Licensing Examination – Updated Competency Model

As you know, the International Licensing Examination for Hearing Healthcare Professionals (the “ILE”) serves an important role in the licensure process for new hearing healthcare providers. The ILE’s primary purpose is to accurately identify candidates with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for safe and effective entry-level practice as hearing care professionals. The International Hearing Society (IHS) began the process of updating its Competency Model and the ILE exam in 2015 to ensure relevant and current exam content. This memo is intended to provide licensing bodies and potential candidates with details about the transition from the current version of the ILE to a version based on an updated Competency Model.

Release of the Updated IHS Competency Model

Professional standards require that high-stakes credentialing programs regularly review and update exams and Competency Models to ensure that they remain aligned with current best practices. Therefore, approximately every 5-7 years, IHS conducts a job analysis study to collect input from the professional community to identify necessary revisions. The updated Competency Model is the outcome of the most recent study, which was completed in mid-2015 through the use of focus groups and a survey of licensed hearing practitioners.

The updated Competency Model is available here. It includes the most important knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for safe and effective practice by entry-level hearing healthcare professionals and also provides information about the amount of the exam that will be dedicated to each of these areas. The updated Competency Model will officially replace the current Competency Model as of May 1, 2016. While the updated Competency Model contains many elements similar to those in the current Competency Model, the structure and relative weightings of the various elements have been updated based on the practitioner feedback collected as part of the study mentioned above.

Please take time to familiarize yourself with the updated Competency Model. It will serve as the basis for the ILE for the next several years.

Release of an Updated ILE

Because the ILE is based on the IHS Competency Model, when the Competency Model changes, the examination must change with it. Therefore, IHS will release an updated version of the ILE based on the updated Competency Model on May 1, 2016. Although the content of the exam will now be aligned to the updated Competency Model, the format of the ILE will remain largely unchanged: The exam will still consist of 105 multiple-choice questions (80 scored items, 25 unscored pilot items), and will continue to utilize dichotomous scoring, meaning the answer selection(s) are either right or wrong. Candidates will earn one (1) point for getting the question right (correct), and will earn zero (0) points for getting the question wrong (incorrect).

Resetting the ILE Passing Score

In the same way that it is necessary to update the Competency Model to ensure that the content of the examination is relevant and current, it is also necessary to periodically review the ILE passing score to ensure that the performance level necessary for passing the exam is appropriate for entry-level practitioners.

Because the most critical outcome of a licensure exam is the pass/fail decision, the passing score must be defensible and reflect the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level practice. Therefore, the IHS-recommended passing score for the updated ILE will be obtained through a systematic standard setting study that will be conducted in early June 2016. Standard setting is the process of defining the performance expectations of the minimally qualified candidate and translating that performance expectation into a passing score. The standard setting study will be conducted with the input of an independent panel of practicing hearing healthcare professionals and facilitated by an independent third-party testing organization.

Please note: Because the passing score for the exam will not be finalized until early June, candidates who take the updated ILE in May and early June should expect a delay in the reporting of the pass/fail decision until mid-June. For examinations given after mid-June, score reporting will return to its current schedule. Additionally, because both the content of the examination and the performance expectations have been revised, it is possible that there will be a shift in exam pass rates.

Test Taker Notification

On February 1, 2016 IHS will begin to inform eligible test takers of the updated Competency Model in the candidate Study Guide. It will be noted that test takers scheduled to sit for the exam between May 1 and May 31, 2016 will be testing based on the updated Competency Model. Furthermore test takers during May and June will experience a delay in receiving test scores. We kindly request that you provide the same notifications to test takers. The current Study Guide is always available to download at

Important Dates:

May 1, 2016The updated Competency Model takes effect and administration of the updated ILE begins.
Early June, 2016The passing score for the updated ILE is determined based on a standard setting study.
Mid-June 2016Pass/fail decisions for exams administered in May and early June are reported. Score reporting will return to its current schedule.

Please contact me with any questions about the transition to the updated Competency Model and International Licensing Examination for Hearing Healthcare Professionals. And please note the delay of exam results during May and June 2016.

Joy Wilkins
Director of Professional Development

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