And The Oscar for Best Assessment Goes To…

And The Oscar for Best Assessment Goes To…

By Alison Foster, Marketing 

January 22, 2015

It’s award season for the film industry. The Golden Globes, Emmys and Academy Awards have taken over primetime television, and the media is inundated with pictures of beautifully dressed men and women accepting accolades and small gold statues. If you are like me, you probably don’t care all that much about these awards shows. However, while I don’t plan on spending an evening watching hours of acceptance speeches, I do recognize that these awards serve an important function for the film industry. I also realize that they affect how I view movies.

 Let me give you an example: It’s Friday night and I am debating between two movies, one won four Academy Awards and the other wasn’t even nominated. Regardless of which one I choose to watch, I will probably admit that the Academy Award-winner is the better movie. If a film wins an Academy Award, I can trust that there is something great about it.

Why? Because at the most basic level, awards like an Oscar or an Emmy represent quality control standards. They are the film industry’s peer review process, during which industry insiders separate the great from the good, and determine what represents the very “best” work in their field.

How does all of this relate back to testing? The way I see it, the Academy Awards are simply a glamorous version of the U.S. Department of Education’s Peer Review. Different fields, same result.

 Like with the Oscars, The US DOE Peer Review process is about determining what represents the “highest quality” in its field. Specifically, the purpose of the Peer Review is to establish high standards for state assessment systems, and help states prepare to develop, administer, and improve their tests. Also, like with the Oscars and its different categories, there are subfields within the industry that need to be addressed separately. For the Peer Review, this is seen by the different “Critical Elements”.

 One of these is Critical Element 2.5 – Test Security, asks States to prove they have “implemented and documented an appropriate set of policies and procedures to prevent test irregularities and ensure the integrity of test results.” To meet this requirement, States must submit documentation of policies and procedures in four categories of test security: prevention, detection, remediation, and investigation. It is a complicated an overwhelming process, to be sure.

 However, this is where those involved in creating state assessments can learn something from the film industry: You don’t win the Oscar for Best Picture without involving a wide range of experts. To create a “Best Picture” a film crew needs expert cameramen, set designers, costumers, actors, and producers. The same goes for the testing industry; State assessment directors don’t have to do everything on their own.

Next week, Caveon will host a free webinar, Mastering the U.S. DOE Peer Review Requirements for Test Security. In the webinar, test security experts will unpack the requirements of this section of the Peer Review process. Specifically, they will provide information on best practices for protecting assessments as well as outline resources available to help streamline the process.

 The Academy Awards allow the film industry to celebrate the very best of its field while at the same time establishing high quality standards. The same thing can be accomplished with the US DOE’s Peer Review Process. This is our chance to establish quality standards, promote trust in the validity of our assessments, and create ideals for testing programs to aspire to.   

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