Written by John Fremer, President, Caveon Consulting Services
Perhaps you have recently had a test security breach or narrowly avoided one. Alternatively, you have read or heard something about other similar testing programs that have had major security problems – theft of an item pool, significant cheating, or other problems that you hope won’t happen to you. If these security issues haven’t happened, the odds are that sooner or later they will. What’s a test program manager to do?
Review Your Readily Available Professional Resources
I suggest that you begin by reviewing who is in your network of staff, consultants, and professional colleagues who might be able to help. If there is someone close to you who has tackled test security problems and is willing to share their experience with you, this can have many benefits. Just having a sympathetic ear can be a relief. As far as I know there is not a “support group” for testing program professionals who have faced and dealt with significant security breaches, but you may be able to build a small network even if it has only one member other than yourself.
Obtain and Read Highly Relevant Test Security Documents
In the last few years, many individuals and groups have developed materials for test program managers that analyze the test security threats we face in building and maintaining high stakes testing programs in different domains. The Association of Test Publishers (ATP) has played a major and continuing role in this respect. See, for example, the 2013 Operational Best Practices for Statewide Large-Scale Assessment Programs and a series of reports and other contributions from the ATP Security Council. Look at the just-released Association of Test Publishers Security Survey Report 2013. Both Operational Best Practices and the ATPSC Test Security Report are available from the ATP book store.
Caveon’s Test Security Resources
Since this essay is one of the weekly Caveon Test Security blog entries, you will not be surprised to find a recommendation that you draw on Caveon for assistance. We have been assisting clients to enhance the security of their examinations for ten years. We share what we learn through blogs such as this one and by a series of complimentary webinars that explore many facets of test security. Caveon’s Test Security Standards provide a detailed listing of specific test security related components of a testing program that, taken as a group, can makes a substantial contribution to the security of tests and testing programs. As you will learn or perhaps have already learned, you cannot “pick and choose” which test security issues to address. That is like asking what part of the bottom of a boat needs to be waterproof. The answer, of course, is “all of it.”
You can also get direct Caveon assistance through:
- A Test Security Audit to detect vulnerabilities and learn how to correct them
- Data Forensics analyses to see how much cheating and test theft exists in your program
- Monitoring of the Internet to see if your secure test programs can be found there
- Development of test items to build or repair your item pools
A Test Security Book for All
One resource that test program managers should acquire if they do not already have is the Handbook of Test Security (Wollack and Fremer) published this year by Routledge. It has 17 chapters by testing company and academic professionals who address a wide variety of issues in the design, development, and management of high stakes testing programs. Just about any challenge that you need to face as a test program manager or someone helping with testing programs that have consequences for those tested is addressed at least in part in this timely volume.
In addition to the other suggestions that I have made, I want to offer my personal assistance in addressing test security issues. Send me an email or access my LinkedIn or Twitter [@TestSecurityGuy] accounts and I would be pleased to provide my perspective on strategies that you might explore and people or materials that could be helpful
At Caveon, our goal and mission is to help you administer tests securely, fairly, and with integrity. We are here to protect your tests and your organization.