Communicating the Why of Web Patrolling
Few would disagree; web monitoring is an important part of any testing program’s test security arsenal. Monitoring of the Internet and social media for potential disclosure of secure test content enables testing programs to support the valid use of test scores, ensure the fairness of test results, and understand the level of risk exposure for their test items.
Web monitoring for infringements of test content is not only best practice, but is recommended by several important test organizations, and is specifically prescribed in the following industry publications:
- International Test Commission (ITC) in its “ITC Guidelines on the Security of Tests, Examinations, and Other Assessments”
- The ATP/CCSSO’s “Operational Best Practices for Statewide Large-Scale Assessment Programs”
- CCSSO’s Test Security Guidebook: “Preventing, Detecting, and Investigating Test Security Irregularities”
When web patrolling is effective, it can:
- Help make sure the test results are fair for all test takers,
- Allow test scores to be used for the purposes for which they were intended,
We know what web patrolling can do to safeguard our exams, but what do we know about communicating its use?
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the life of my career, it’s the importance of communication. Communicate, communicate, communicate. In some cases it’s more important to communicate what you’ve done, rather than doing the actual work. For example, I’ve had the fortune of leading numerous high-visibility projects. I’ve had to present project status, program results, and business outcomes to cross-divisional, upper management teams. When these messages were delivered, it became apparent to me that these individuals just wanted to be enlightened about the reasons for the project, the project’s progress, the impact on resources for a program’s implementation, and how the business was going to be affected.
The same adage of communicate, communicate, communicate applies to the use of web patrolling. By communicating why you are monitoring the web and what you are looking for, a testing program can:
- Involve the right individuals to make decisions about proper actions to take around the inappropriate disclosure of secure test content
- deter individuals who may be thinking of sharing what they harvested from a test
- educate individuals who may not realize how damaging it is to disclose test content
- properly train test administration to prevent further incidents of this type from occurring
- inform stakeholders about what an organization is doing to safeguard the tests and test scores
No doubt, web monitoring is a critical test security strategy to ensure the fairness and validity of assessments. We want fair and valid test results for all test takers. No one should gain an unfair advantage. However, sometimes communicating the why of web patrolling is just as important as performing the patrolling itself.