Quality Training Standards

What to know

  • CDC has set standard benchmarks for determining high-quality trainings.
  • These Quality Training Standards provide guidance for creating high-quality trainings.
  • A training must meet all eight standards to be considered a CDC Quality Training.


These eight training development standards serve as quality benchmark for trainings developed or funded by CDC. The standards provide guidance for developing quality training that results in learning. To learn more, see the CDC Quality Standards Introduction video.

Your training must meet all eight standards to be a CDC Quality Training.


See examples of trainings that meet the standards using the CDC Quality Training Standards search filter in CDC TRAIN, CDC's online learning management system.

Quality Training Standards

1. Training NEEDS ASSESSMENT informs training development

  • Ensure that training is needed to address the gap, training is not always the solution.
  • Conduct a needs assessment that validates the need for training.
  • Consider a simple or complex approach.
    • Complex approaches might include collecting new data through surveys and interviews.
    • Simple approaches might include looking at existing data or literature or talking to a few key informants.
  • Conduct a training needs analysis if training is needed. This is a part of the needs assessment and focuses on gathering information that helps with training approach.
    • Identify and confirm the training goal with key partners.
    • Assess opportunities to build trust, engage, and advance equity through training.
    • Identify and describe learners (and community if appropriate).
    • Identify barriers and facilitators for training delivery to ensure inclusion and accessibility (e.g., language, technology, or location).
  • Select a delivery method(s), strategy(ies), or trainers appropriate for content and learners.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

  • Identify appropriate competencies (e.g., Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals), if relevant.
  • Establish and confer with a planning committee that includes diverse and relevant representatives of the learner audience (e.g., different professions, generations, race and ethnicity, and gender identity).

2. Training includes LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) learning objectives (e.g., writing effective learning objectives).
  • Match learning objectives with goals.
  • Select educational methods that support learning objectives.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

3. Training content is ACCURATE AND RELEVANT

  • Develop content that meets the needs of the learners and program based on the needs assessment.
  • Consider your learners and make sure your content (including examples and visuals) is culturally appropriate and relevant.
    • Include real-world examples that support the content.
  • Ensure content aligns with learning objectives to avoid unnecessary material.
  • Conduct a subject matter expert (SME) review.
    • The SME(s) should ensure that content is accurate based on best-available evidence and up-to-date.
    • The SME(s) should review for bias and ensure possible biases (including commercial bias) are minimized and mitigated (e.g., content changed and conflicts of interest disclosed).
  • Create an expiration date for the training to review and update or retire, as needed.
    • Review may include evidence-based practice, peer review journals, best practices, or SMEs' input.
    • Update or remove content in a timely manner.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

4. Training includes opportunities for LEARNING ENGAGEMENT

  • Design training that is interactive or engaging (e.g., knowledge checks, case studies, question and answer sessions, or exercises), as appropriate for learners' needs and training goals.
  • Provide opportunity for learners to receive feedback.
  • Facilitate engagement activities in a manner that is inclusive of all learners.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

  • Use adult learning principles for adult learners.
  • Include experiential or practice-based learning (e.g., internship with a mentor for on-the-job learning).
  • Provide opportunity for learners to share experiences and learn from others' experiences. These may include peer learning and interdisciplinary opportunities for practice.

5. Training is designed for USABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY

  • Use conversational style that is appropriate for learners (i.e., active voice, present tense, and second person).
  • Use language and tone that is inclusive, familiar, and clear for learners.
  • Select media, interface, and educational methods that can be used by your audience and facilitates learning (e.g., some learners may not have reliable internet access).
  • Design for user experience.
    • Develop easy and user-friendly navigation or materials.
    • Ensure that navigation or materials allow learners flexibility to access content that that they need.
    • Organize concepts in logical sections.
  • Make content accessible to learners (e.g., section 508 compliant and accommodations as needed).

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

  • Use high quality (e.g., clear, clean, and crisp) audio and visual aids to clarify concepts when appropriate.
  • Use technology that is current and easy to access.
    • Ensure that links are functional.
    • Provide technical support.

6. Training EVALUATION informs improvement

  • Develop and implement a training evaluation plan that includes the evaluation purpose, questions, and data collection methods.
  • Recruit evaluation participants who reflect the diversity of your learner audience to ensure cultural, social, and contextual relevance.
  • Conduct a formative evaluation as part of development. This may include peer review, quality checklist assessment (e.g., using this checklist), pilot testing, or usability testing.
  • Conduct outcome evaluation that includes training effectiveness and learner assessment (Standard 7).
  • Include opportunity for learners to provide feedback on training.
    • Include open-ended feedback, if possible.
  • Review and analyze evaluation data for training improvement.
    • Plan to use process evaluation data and learner feedback for ongoing quality improvement.
    • Make recommendations for training content, delivery methods, and learning activities that fill gaps with focus on areas with greatest need, including the need to advance equity.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

7. Training includes opportunity for LEARNER ASSESSMENT

  • Construct learner assessments (e.g., posttest, knowledge check, exercise, observed practice, question and answer session, or problem solving) that relate directly to learning objectives to reinforce learning.
    • Use different question formats, such as multiple choice, matching, listing, reordering, and sorting.
  • Use socially and contextually relevant assessments for learners to apply what they have learned (e.g., case scenarios are realistic and relevant to learners).
  • Provide learners with feedback on their responses or skill demonstration to support learning.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training:

  • Recognize learner completion through a certificate or other notification.

8. Training includes FOLLOW-UP SUPPORT for the learner

  • Provide opportunities to learners for continued learning after the training that reinforces retention and application of content delivered during training.
  • Use a simple or complex approach that includes at least one resource for post training support. Simple approaches include providing contact information for help, tip sheets and other resources for more information, and access to other learners for peer support. Complex approaches include conference calls, webcasts, coaching, homework assignments, accountability partners, communities of practice, and reminders such as emails and quizzes provided some time after the training.
  • Choose an approach that is socially and contextually relevant to learners (i.e., reflective and inclusive of the learners' experiences and environment).
    • For example, consider learners' availability and access to technology.

Some trainings may require additional attributes. Consider if the following apply to your training: