Under-Served Populations and the Security Desert

August 3, 2017

Written by Benjamin Hunter, Technology Product Manager & Sales Director

What if I told you that most certification programs still write their items by emailing Word documents back and forth, or that many of these programs have educators administer and proctor high-stakes certification exams, even if they were the instructors on the course? From a test security standpoint, this is a terrifying scenario, yet it plays out every day in testing rooms across the country.

It is true that there are many credentialing programs that hold themselves to high standards. The Association of Test Publishers (ATP) and Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), two of the flagship credentialing and testing organizations in the United States, are standards bearers for the industry at large. Collectively, they consist of 10-20% of testing organizations. These are the organizations that we in the credentialing industry are most familiar with, and they are often perceived as a model for what high stakes testing should look like.

However, what about the rest of the testing programs out there? Here at Caveon, we have discovered that there is a significantly under-served population of small testing programs, totaling over 1,000 organizations and representing more than 5,000 test titles, that do not belong to associations like ATP or ICE. These organizations, some of which have only 1-2 full-time staff and rely on member dues to stay afloat, are limited in what resources they can devote to test security issues.

Welcome to what I have begun to refer to as the “security desert”. These under-served programs, small organizations with minimal budgets and limited resources are often forced to compromise security for practical concerns. Yet, they represent a significant portion of the certifications issued on a daily basis, running the gamut from providing certification in fields ranging from aerospace and air conditioning to tiny specialty medical boards. Typically, the lack of compliance to security standards from these organizations isn’t because they don’t care, it is simply too expensive for them to do so and keep the lights on at the same time! These programs do important work, and they are desperate for a better solution to the way they currently approach security.

We need to turn our attention to this under-served population. Offering methods for improving the security of small certification programs, at reasonable price, will benefit everyone in the testing and credentialing industries. Think about it, in the eyes of the public, these organizations get lumped together alongside our ATP/ICE standard bearers, yet we know that they don’t have the resources to undertake the high security standards we aim to hold ourselves to. I, for one, would feel more comfortable knowing that all certification programs are able to attain the same high standards for their tests.

Caveon Technology™, together with our candidate management and proctoring partners, is ready to step up and help. We are developing a lower-cost – yet still high-stakes – model that will serve this “security desert” and allow these important programs to increase security and validity. We invite you to join us in this effort.


Benjamin Hunter

Technology Product Manager & Sales Director, Caveon Test Security