Thursday 15 December 2011

Administering a Certification Test

To ensure the integrity of the credential, the security surrounding the examination process is essential. Security includes ensuring the right candidate is taking the test. Security also means controlling the exposure of test questions to safeguard the integrity of the tool. On this point, the certification body should put in place a mechanism for the rotation of assessment questions in order to maintain their objectivity and confidentiality. The test should be administered in a standardized manner, in a secure, proctored environment. Assessors and invigilators should be trained on the proper handling of assessment materials and on administration policies and protocol.

Care must also be taken regarding the access to testing materials when they are not being administered. All assessments materials and related confidential information should be maintained in a secure environment, and processes and policies should be in place regarding their handling. Access to these materials should be limited to those who require it and who are trained in proper handling of these materials.

Computer-based testing is becoming more prevalent than the traditional paper-and-pencil method (60% versus 72% in 2007 compared to 34% computer-based testing and 81% paper-and-pencil in 2003; Knapp, 2007). Regardless of the approach ultimately selected, test administration should always be standardized, structured and delivered in a proctored environment. Safeguards should be in place to address concerns related to computer-based assessments, such as the existence of chat rooms and forums that share tips on how to pass the test.

A common misconception is that computer-based tests are less costly to administer than paper assessments. It is demonstrated that this is not necessarily the case. There are a number of considerations when looking at computer-based testing, including the infrastructure costs, the increased number of test items required due to greater rate of item exposure, as well as security concerns.

After administering the test, it is important to conduct statistical analyses to ensure that the test is performing as expected and that the pass mark is appropriately set.

Another consideration is determining what information is to be provided to candidates in terms of their results and feedback. While there are different ways of reporting assessment results, it is important to ensure consistency in the type of information shared with candidates. In some cases, this may just be a pass or fail notice. Other administrators report a score, pass mark and feedback by category.

This post is based on content from 'Assessment Tools Certification' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

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