Can Your Test Item Roll Over? Prioritizing “Preventative Health” in Test Development Processes and Test Item Design

A year ago, I adopted a terrier puppy named Abby, who a rescue organization had found abandoned on the side of the road. Black and white, and hardly bigger than a ball of yarn, Abby was an outward symbol of my making some big life changes. She was my new buddy on my new journey—and, because the rescue organization followed standard protocols of inoculations, Abby’s second chance in life was off to a healthy start, and has remained so.

While a canine is certainly not the same as a test item (Can your test item “help” dig holes in your back yard? I think not!), the idea of preventative health in developing test items is one worthy of deeper consideration. Many organizations wait until an exam has been compromised to take action. However, if there are processes and procedures that could help deter theft and cheating, why not implement them?

The Caveon Test Development team is devoting its full attention to answering these questions:

  • What can test development organizations do during the development stage—and with item design—to help prevent, deter, or detect threats?
  • Which “best practices” in test development are still relevant?
  • What are the new best practices for ensuring that items are more difficult to steal?

There are no easy answers. The challenges that testing programs face regarding security are daunting, but the potential for solutions is exciting, particularly if we are willing to marry common sense with innovation. However, if the “best practices” or processes we currently follow were meant for the world we lived in 50 years ago, how can we, without irony, still call them “best practices”?

Albert Einstein once said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” It’s time to re-shape our thinking in test development, and prioritizing inoculation is a logical first step.


Tara Williams

Chief Editor, Caveon Test Security

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