Testing Services and The New Joint Standards for Online Observation of Tests

The Impact and Opportunity of These Best Practices

May 16, ’24 | Written by Scott Crumpler

In a significant move toward enhancing the integrity and reliability of online assessments, the National College Testing Association and the Association of Test Publishers have jointly developed the Standards for the Online Observation of Tests. The final draft was released on May 1, 2024 for public comment until June 30, 2024. While the standards address multiple roles within online testing and the best practices that should apply, this development presents a pivotal opportunity for college Testing Services professionals to engage with online testing.

The Best Practices that make up the standards developed by NCTA and ATP provide a comprehensive framework for online proctoring that can be of significant use to college test centers who want to participate in their institutions' online testing regimes. These standards cover various aspects of online proctoring, including security protocols, privacy considerations, and technical requirements among other important areas. They provide useful guidance for Testing Services professionals to successfully effectively expand from physical test centers to online proctoring, ensuring the same level of rigor and integrity in a remote testing environment.

Getting Engaged in Online Testing in Higher Education

The shift to online learning and assessment is inevitable, and higher education institutions must adapt to this new reality. For Testing Services professionals, this transition presents both challenges and opportunities. The development of the Standards for the Online Observation of Tests provides a roadmap for navigating these changes and considerations as proctoring professionals that will support staying engaged in the evolving academic landscape.

By embracing online proctoring and leveraging the new standards, academic testing services departments can expand their services and remain relevant in an increasingly online world. This includes exploring new technologies and platforms that facilitate secure online testing, collaborating with faculty to offer remote exams proctored by their own institutional staff, and continuously updating their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry advancements.

Where Best Practices Meet Technology for Managing a Program at Scale

With a standard jointly developed by the two leading organizations in the advancement and study of assessment, a pro-active Testing Services program simply need the tools to properly put their online capabilities into practice for their institution.  Efforts have been made by some to use online video meeting tools with varying levels of success, but these offer critical gaps if you want to make online proctored testing available at scale.

Some key considerations

Every department will have different resources and operations that will inevitably dictate some of the solutions they adopt when offering online proctoring.  But there are several key technology requirements that all Testing Services teams will need from the tools they use for remote proctoring:

  • Remote Exam Session Recording:  You need a tool that can, at the very least, capture & record feeds from a webcam and screenshare for each individual student in order to develop a complete record of each individual exam.
  • Student Registration/Scheduling:  You need an online system that allows students to schedule specific exams to be taken online with your proctors.  Calling and e-mailing won't cut it at scale.
  • Efficient Proctoring Timeslot Management:  Just like you don't want to schedule more students for a given time at your test center than you have seats/computers to accommodate, you don't want to let students schedule more sessions than your available online proctors can handle.  That means you need a tool for managing total available timeslots for your proctoring team.
  • Individual Exam Requirements Management:  Instructors at your institution should be able to provide specific requirements that can be easily plugged into your exam session recording session software to establish the rules and allowances for each exam.
  • Exam Session Records Management:  It's it extremely inefficient to try to build drive or folder-based recordkeeping for exam session recordings on a "per-student" basis.  You need a system that automatically creates a unified record for each student's exam session that includes all recorded streams, check-in information, and communications logs so that managing these records is feasible.  The system should also provide a way to give administrators and academic review committees with limited access to individual sessions as needed without complex processes or privacy concerns.
  • Integration Wherever Possible:  To manage these needs at scale, it's important to identify as few tools as possible that will meet as many needs as possible.  This makes training and documentation easier and results in fewer errors, vulnerabilities, and operational challenges.

A Sustainable Future for Testing Services in a Hybrid Testing World

The release of the Standards for the Online Observation of Tests by NCTA and ATP is a significant milestone for the field of academic and professional testing. For Testing Services professionals, these standards also offer valuable guidance, enabling them to expand from in-person testing exclusively to adding remotely proctored testing. It's a way for these crucial players provide new value to their institution that supports maintaining the highest standards of integrity and security.

As the public comment window remains open until June 30, 2024, it's important for all testing professionals to review the standards, provide feedback, and prepare for their implementation. By doing so, they can ensure that they are well-equipped to meet the demands of online assessment and continue to play a vital role in upholding academic excellence.

At Proctor360, we recognize the importance of these developments and are committed to supporting Testing Services professionals in their journey towards adopting and implementing these new standards. That's why we've developed a complete, cloud-based software solution that meets all the requirements described above specifically for college testing centers and departments. Together, we can embrace the future of online proctoring and ensure that the integrity of academic testing remains uncompromised.

Proctor360 is a proud member and annual conference sponsor of the National College Testing Association and the Association of Test Publishers. 

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