PSI’s Holistic Approach to the Security of Digital Testing

As an industry leader in career advancement certification testing, PSI was delighted to share its expertise at ICEF’s August webinar on Digital Assessment Solutions. Isabelle Gonthier, Senior Vice President, Assessment Services at PSI Services LLC, and Rory McCorkle, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development and Client Success at PSI Services LLC, shared PSI’s holistic approach to the implementation of digital testing and proctoring solutions.

Although these modalities are not new, digital, and remote testing options within the credentialing industry have certainly increased in popularity since the Covid pandemic. In fact, thirty-seven percent of webinar participants polled during the webinar, are expecting digital or remote testing to be the most used modalities moving forward, while thirty-five percent expect a hybrid solution to be most desired by test takers.

While there are many benefits to digital or remote testing, particularly for English language assessments where access to test centers may be limited, there are, however, several considerations to make before transitioning to a fully digital testing or proctoring solution. Isabelle says, “Technology doesn’t replace the human, it helps humans in how they go about taking a test, developing a test, and engaging in a learning experience.”

Risks To Consider

When implementing a digital testing solution, it is important that every measure possible is taken to prevent the test taker from receiving an unfair advantage. Some of the most common risks associated with digital testing are:

· Unauthorized test aides such as earbuds or a hidden camera.

· Pre-knowledge of the test questions from previous experience with the examination content.

· Proxy testing, where another individual takes the test for the candidate via shared desktop or a remote access program.

These risks are even more prevalent in a fully digital testing environment where the test taker is remote and online proctoring is being utilized. In a traditional test setting, the proctor plays a key role of ensuring that the test taker is comfortable throughout the examination process, and most importantly, protects the integrity of the test results by upholding the institution’s testing policies. Test providers have worked hard to replicate this experience through online proctoring, while putting safeguards in place to combat the risks above.

Effectively Implementing Digital Testing

With over 75 years of experience developing and delivering a variety of testing modalities, PSI has adopted an end-to-end approach to digital testing security.

· Test Development– A bank-based test development method is utilized using a broad set of content, limiting the risk of content exposure, unlike fixed examination forms where the content does not change.

· Test Delivery– Facial positioning and background audio levels are monitored by the proctor during the test, while the use of a secure browser blocks proxy test programs.

· Incident Tracking and Reporting– Over the years, we have developed a list of about sixty common types of incidents. We work closely with the institutions that we serve to configure their approach to those particular security incidents.

With many indications that the demand for digital testing and proctoring solutions will continue to increase, it is important that institutions develop their own digital testing policies and clearly communicate them to all stakeholders. If you do not know where to start, speak to your testing provider to review your objectives and work together to develop a process. Rory advises, “Whatever you adapt; pilot, prove it out, and ensure that you have the data to support the holistic approach that you are taking with artificial intelligence and that you have a large enough sample size to ensure the validity and reliability of those results.”


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