Is it too early for a midlife (test security) crisis?

**Special Guest Blog**

Written by Karen Wood, Security Analyst Lead, Content Protection, Ascend Learning

I’m grateful that what’s considered “middle age” seems to be pushed back each year to “older than me”. However, in light of approaching my 47th birthday in October, I wonder if it’s too early for a midlife crisis? Or at the very least, a midlife test security crisis?

When I obtained my journalism degree in the early 90s, I’d never heard of test security as a viable employment path. My sights were focused on the magazine world, and we all know what’s becoming of print journalism. That’s hindsight for you. And while test security is still a relatively new field, I helped found the test security department at ATI Testing (a division of  Ascend Learning) while I was lead editor in our R&D department due to the number of test security questions I was fielding. This made ATI one of the first technology-based testing companies to have a dedicated Test Security department.

I joined forces with Christy Frederes and Tara Miller who were in Test Administration and were on the same path – just a different angle – and they enlisted the help of Caveon to perform a Security Audit. The audit was vital to establishing our program’s credibility. It affirmed the security policies and best practice procedures ATI had established and made valuable suggestions that moved ATI further towards a testing industry standard.

The CESP certification is just the next logical step in establishing and maintaining best-in-class test security status. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hesitant to taking that next step. Crisis time! I haven’t taken a test in decades, unless you count social media quizzes (I’ve never seen or read Harry Potter but a friend’s quiz tells me I’m a Ravenclaw).  And I’ve definitely never taken a test involving Discrete Option Multiple Choice items (maybe that’s coming soon to a meme near you).

However, just as the Security Audit was important to setting a test security standard for ATI, so is the CESP certification – both personally and professionally.  A CESP behind my name would not only highlight my hard work in creating test  security  awareness within ATI, but it would open up valuable conversations regarding the importance of this relatively new field, both within my company, and within the industry as a whole. The question “What does CESP mean?” could provide the key to a stronger, more valued test security industry.

Crisis averted! Well maybe not, I still have to take the test. But with the knowledge and reputation gained from the CESP certification, I look forward to the challenge. Now, if Caveon could help me with that “age” thing.



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