COMPUTER-BASED TESTING AND THE INTERNET in .NET

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buy answers to questions, launch large-scale, coordinated efforts to memorize items to share with or sell to other test takers, or photograph/record test questions Proctoring and test center security needs to contend with as many of these potential risks as possible In addition, there are other detection measures that testing organizations employ that are beyond the scope of the present discussion It does seem relevant, however, to discuss four areas of test security relevant to the test center: (1) identi cation and authentication; (2) digital security; (3) preventing on-site cheating; and (4) reducing risks associated with collaborative theft of item banks Identi cation and authentication of the test takers is crucial for high-stake examinations Surrogate examinees that show up and attempt to take somebody else s test can pose a serious threat to the integrity of an examination Many testing organizations require two forms of identi cation, including a valid photo ID at check-in Requiring the examinees physically sign a log or attestation statement provides a signature for the test taker s le and may discourage risk-adverse individuals from using surrogates Many testing vendors also offer the option of taking on-site digital photos or employing some other means of biometric identi cation to authenticate the test takers Finally, the access token or registration code provided to the examinee during the registration process can be used as a secondary authentication check However, examinees can give their access token or registration code to somebody else These identi cation veri cation and authentication steps primarily serve as gate-keeper functions meant to prevent unauthorized access to the test; however, they can also provide a record of evidence that may be useful for detecting or reacting to suspected cheating after the test is completed A second aspect of test security relates to the prevention and detection of digital data security breaches Digital data security breaches can range from outright data theft or eavesdropping to dealing with denial-of-service attacks (Schneier, 2000) Using network rewalls or virtual private networks, employing encryption technology, and monitoring secure transmissions between web and network routers can help to avoid some of these security breaches Denial of service is a somewhat different security problem where the attacker attempts to slow down or stop service by overwhelming the system These types of attack have not been reported as a serious problem in CBT to date; however, as more high-stake testing programs migrate to sending and receiving data over the Internet, test centers and servers could become vulnerable Outright cheating is still a major problem on a computer-based test Having multiple test forms, using random item scrambling strategies, and exposure control mechanisms make it unlikely that two examinees sitting together will have the same test items in the same order Testing programs can sometimes be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming that such preventative measures completely solve the cheating problem Cheating behaviors also include attempts at copying from notes, taking notes or using small scanners
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OPERATIONAL CBT ISSUES
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or cameras to photograph test materials to share with future examinees, or using a cell phone or some other communication device to call others during a secure test12 One of the best prevention mechanisms for these types of security problem is to use test proctors Proctoring can be done using human proctors and/or by using video and audio surveillance equipment to monitor the examinees while they are testing Highly sophisticated surveillance, however, tends to be expensive and may add to the already high xed costs of testing A nal type of CBT security problem has to do with collaboration on the part of two or more examinees to memorize and share/sell large portions of the active item bank This problem is actually exacerbated by having continuous testing and limited-capacity testing facilities for high-stake tests That is, the limited seating capacity of most dedicated test center networks has forced many testing organizations to spread their testing out over multiple testing dates Given the ongoing competition for seats between different testing organizations using the same test delivery vendor, testing often becomes a continuous or near-continuous event Yet, continuous or near-continuous testing is very risky for any high-stake examination From the moment that an item bank is exposed , examinee collaboration networks (ECNs) will attempt to collect as much information about the items as possible to share/ sell to future examinees (Luecht, 1998b) These types of item-theft security risk/breach can have a devastating effect on the integrity of a testing program There is an obvious solution: to increase the size and number of item banks Large banks, frequently rotated, will help to prevent most collaboration efforts by test takers Conservative estimates have suggested that item banks needed to be 8 10 times as large as the average test length (Mills & Stocking, 1996) Less is known about the number of banks needed per year, but three or four banks is not unreasonable Unfortunately, large item banks can only be constructed by increased item production In turn, increased production costs will add substantially to the total cost of testing For example, consider a testing program with the per-item costs estimated at $500 (This includes the costs to write, edit, try out, and integrate each item into a test form) Assume that, under paper-and-pencil testing, the program generated two 100-item test forms per year, using 80% of the item bank, on average The item production demand was for 250 items per year at a total cost of $125,000 Under continuous CBT, assume that item production needs to be ramped up to generate ten times as many items to prevent the ECNs from successfully bene ting from memorizing and sharing test items This new demand increases cost of the item production to $1,250,000 If the number of testing days is decreased, by increasing testing seat capacity, the added production costs needed to maintain secure item banks can be proportionally reduced
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There have been anecdotes of test takers caught hiding cell phones in the ceiling tiles of a restroom and using a restroom break as an opportunity to call somebody for assistance during an examination
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