Higher Pass Rates on DoDD 8570 for 200+ US Army Soldiers.
United States Army Signal School leadership expressed that their Soldiers were consistently underperforming on the CompTIA Security+ certification exam.
The exam is required for certain roles by Department of Defense Directive 8140/8570, and the low pass rate and under-certification risked a negative impact on national defenses and military objectives. The low pass rate was also taking a financial toll, forcing Army leadership to invest additional funds into exam retake vouchers after Soldiers failed earlier attempts.
Compared to Soldiers who had at least one year of experience in the field, the 2,600 to 4,000 new recruits within the Advancing Infantry Training (AIT) program significantly underperformed. Leadership was confident that the pass rates were not a reflection of the Soldiers’ aptitude or competencies, but rather a failure in the training system designed to prepare the participants for exam day.
The Army needed a new, 100% online training approach that would generate high engagement and accountability, while maintaining flexibility and efficiency.
A four-week Security+ training course specifically configured for more than 200 Soldiers was deployed fully online.
The course centered around two major elements: asynchronous video on-demand lessons, and live online office hours with a dedicated instructor and Teaching Assistant (TA) twice a week, ensuring accountability and progress toward passing scores on exam day. The course also leveraged live online portions—class orientation, office hours, and a final day dedicated to test day strategies—providing Soldiers the opportunity to ask in-depth questions and explore points of interest that they didn’t fully comprehend from the course material.
Our certification experts led the Soldiers through exam-like questions, instructing how to approach tricky questions and execute test-taking strategies. To maintain accountability and engagement at scale, Soldiers were split into cohorts of ten to 50 for live online sessions, with rotating office hours to provide each cohort with a dedicated window of time to engage.
In addition to the on-demand video content and live online portions of the course, CyberVista, now N2K, integrated hands-on practical labs, a question-bank, flashcards, a lesson book, summary notes, and an electronic textbook to ensure participants were well prepared. Each component was available digitally within a Soldier’s Learning Management System (LMS) portal.
Soldiers could monitor their progress and performance with a personal performance tracker embedded in the LMS. Content and assessment questions are tagged directly to the CompTIA exam outline, making it easy to track areas of weakness mapped to each domain and subdomain of the certification exam. Furthermore, they received specific and granular feedback, as well as a robust data source for performance and completion analysis. For example, if a Soldier were to answer a practice question incorrectly, they could immediately review their performance on related questions or link to the relevant on-demand training video to revisit the corresponding lesson, allowing for efficient course navigation for participants and actionable, data-driven insights for both the Soldiers and leadership.
The Signal School Commandant and Leadership received weekly class engagement reports, outlining performance analytics and feedback for each cohort. To keep Soldiers motivated and build friendly competition, participants also received leaderboard results within live online sessions. With N2K's forecasting metrics and recommendations, the Army could assess and determine who was ready to sit for the certification exam, while participants identified as not yet ready to take the certification exam received individual study plans for additional support.
As a result of the course curriculum, approach, and reporting, N2K accurately predicted the exam success rates of each Soldier who had gone through the program.
95% of Soldiers recommended to sit for the Security+ exam passed, while a smaller subset of Soldiers that N2K predicted were not ready did, in fact, fail.
With custom-configured curriculum, Soldiers were not only better prepared to sit for and pass the exam, but there was early anecdotal evidence that they could actively apply what they learned in a realistic manner consistent with real-world job requirements. Quantitatively, the Army has, to date, saved over $90,000 by bypassing vouchers for Soldiers not deemed ready based on N2K's forecast metrics. These funds are now available for further investments in skill improvements or certification pursuits.
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