Enabling Growth

The NRF Foundation is the nonprofit research and education arm of the National Retail  Federation, an advocacy organization that represents 42 million retailers across the country. Since 1981, the NRF Foundation has conducted education, training, and workforce development programs designed to empower the organization’s members and position their businesses for success. Today, the Foundation offers certification programs for customer service, sales, retail management, and retail business disciplines.

The Challenge

When the NRF Foundation partnered with Castle Worldwide in 2004, the organization needed a secure, computer-based test delivery solution for its customer service certification examination. This was to be the first certification offered by the NRF Foundation. It was of the highest priority to partner with an experienced organization that could ensure the development of valid, reliable, and credible certification examinations and deliver those exams through a network of testing locations as well as manage delivery at a rapidly growing number of NRF partner sites. “When NRFF conducted a search for a full-service certification partner nearly a decade ago we interviewed the giants of the industry and made the decision to work with Castle because of their agility, openness to our particular needs and willingness to grow with us. They have fulfilled our expectations every step of the way,” said Kathy Mance, Executive Director of the NRFF.

“. . . we interviewed the giants of the industry and made the decision to work with Castle because of their agility, openness to our particular needs and willingness to grow with us. They have fulfilled our expectations every step of the way.”

Kathy Mance NRFF Executive Director

The Castle Solution

Castle developed a complete test creation, delivery, and candidate results management solution for the customer service examination. Test development included item development, field testing, examination assembly, standard-setting, equating, and ongoing psychometric vigilance. Computer-based test delivery through Castle’s extensive network of proctored locations was a straightforward proposition, and Castle’s advanced IT capabilities made the integration of test delivery seamless at the NRF’s partner sites. Castle designed and hosted a secure web-accessible candidate management system, through which the NRF Foundation views and interacts with their candidate registration and score data.

Based on that early success, the NRF expanded its work with Castle to develop and successfully launch three additional credentials for the retail workforce development market. The NRF Foundation and their many certificate holders and candidates rely on Castle’s expertise in the practical application of psychometrics, effective project management, and a strong commitment to customer service. Recently, the NRF Foundation’s programs have been made available outside the United States where Castle leveraged its international relationships to introduce training, test delivery, and candidate management in China and Brazil.

The Results

The partnership with Castle enabled the NRF Foundation to grow its certification programs from a few hundred beta test candidates for a single credential to a large-scale, multi-lingual testing program of four credentials delivered on three continents at more than 1,000 Castle and NRFF testing locations — many of them in-house, private sites set up by Castle and the NRFF for convenience of testing employees or trainees. Castle’s successful management of secure test development and delivery, as well as training development and localization allowed the Foundation to devote its focus on supporting members.

”Long-term partnerships succeed best when both parties consistently have the best interests of the other in mind,” Mance said. “Our partnership has led to opportunities neither might have foreseen because Castle has been a true ‘good partner’.”