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Developments in Remote Assessment

Nikki Eatchel suggests options to improve at-home testing

While the use of remote education and remote testing has been on the rise, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the volume of remote educational and assessment approaches. With this increased frequency of remote testing, it’s useful to know the variety of options available to help ensure a secure process that supports test-taker integrity.

While the information presented here is not intended to be comprehensive, it provides a high-level overview to assist educational stakeholders in product evaluation.

Functionality to Support Learners in a Remote Environment
With rapidly shifting environments for students, new options are available to help educators determine which students may need some additional support:
Learner readiness assessments help educators and students understand whether they have the skills needed to navigate an online learning environment successfully (and provide helpful next steps to those students who need some additional skill building).
Learner engagement monitoring examines student engagement by tracking attendance, the amount of time a student spends in their learning platform, and the types of activities students are doing while logged into the system.
Remote climate surveys help administrators acquire a strong understanding of how teachers, parents, and students are feeling about their online learning and assessment experiences. Climate surveys proactively provide actionable data for schools, districts, and states to create the appropriate support and educational plans necessary to meet the needs of their various stakeholders.
Analytics tools combine a variety of data points (grades, attendance, assessments, surveys, etc.) for a holistic picture of student and school performance. They are particularly helpful in providing early warning indicators for those students or groups of students who are struggling with a change in the educational approach.

Once students are ready to take remote assessments, there are additional considerations for educators and administrators to help ensure a secure and valid testing environment.

Functionality to Ensure Test-Taker Identification
ID verification: Where applicable and appropriate, using a student ID confirms that the individual taking the test is the authorized test taker.
Facial detection technology: Where applicable and appropriate, using a camera to record and identify faces ensures that the same test taker is present throughout the entire session (versus simply verifying at the beginning of the exam).

Functionality Available during Testing
Lockdown browsers: This system feature ensures that a test taker is not accessing unauthorized content on their device during a testing session.
Live online proctoring (LOP): Where available and appropriate, software can facilitate the use of human proctors during testing sessions. LOP can typically support proctors supplied by an external vendor, teacher proctors, or parent proctors.
Proctoring powered by artificial intelligence (AI): Where it is not feasible or desirable to provide a live, human proctor, proctoring software can monitor, track, and report information regarding the testing sessions, including:
o Monitoring and recording of activities being completed on screen by the test taker
o Eye and head movement tracking to evaluate what test takers are looking at during their assessment
o Voice and person detection to highlight whether additional people are in the room while a test is being taken
o Cellular phone detection to identify whether a cellular phone device is in use during testing

Additional Considerations
As our educational environments and assessment options continue to evolve, it is particularly important to evaluate remote assessment options in light of crucial student considerations. Not all options provided by various vendors take into account accessibility for the broadest set of students (particularly for underserved populations) or fully address accommodation requirements. COVID-19 has had an inequitable impact across student groups, making it extremely important to ensure that introduction and implementation of new assessment approaches provides the best possible experience for every student.

In addition, it is essential to fully vet and discuss the data privacy considerations for any approach or from any vendor. Communicate these considerations with all educational stakeholders (including parents) to ensure that personally identifiable information (PII) is handled safely and appropriately and that vendors conform to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

By working with partners to ensure the best possible program, administrators can create flexible supports that meet the needs of students and provide secure environments that deliver crucial data to educators.

Nikki Eatchel is EVP and chief assessment officer at Scantron.

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