Courage Required

By Steve Addicott, Vice President of Sales, Caveon Test Security

Over the past few weeks, I have participated in several planning sessions with Caveon clients who contract with us to analyze test results. This service, Caveon Data Forensics ™, represents a proactive means to better protect their programs by identifying statistical anomalies that may indicate cheating.

While each of these programs is different (state education, IT certification, medical licensure, construction certification, etc.), it’s interesting to me that they face common challenges in confronting test fraud. For each of these programs, test results matter…they really matter…in making important decisions in the lives of test takers (and in education, teachers and principals). Thus, the integrity of the test administration matters greatly, too.

My overarching impression? Tackling test fraud head-on is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment—a genuine, unwavering commitment to fair and valid test results—to say “We know there is a subset of our test-taking population that is taking shortcuts, and we’re going to do something about it.”

These days, everyone is busy. So, why would any sane test program leader willingly add to his/her workload? The results of our Data Forensics analyses do just that. We identify:

candidates/students that may require invalidations;
test centers/schools that merit investigations; and
items/exams that should be retired and/or revised.
The committed leaders we work with understand that this is what is required to be able to stand in front of stakeholders and proclaim that their test administrations are fair and valid.

Another important takeaway I’ve gained is that a successful Data Forensics program requires the cooperation and coordination of many groups. Last week, I met with a client, a large state department of education. Its leadership, in order to ensure the data forensics program possessed real teeth, sought cooperation with several other state departments:

Legal, to ensure any sanctions resulting from the data forensics would hold up in court;
Communications, to ensure sound, consistent messaging to the media and public alike;
Inspector General, for conducting investigations; and
Professional Practices, in case sanctions might be brought against a state certified educator.
This sort of cross-organizational coordination is not easy to facilitate, but critically important in the fight for fair and valid testing.

If you’re considering how you can augment the security of your program, you might find one of our company webinars to be a help. In “Don’t Shoot The Messenger”, three Caveon clients present the good, the bad, and the challenging in instituting program invalidations through data forensic analyses. You can get a copy of the webinar slides here:


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