Secure Testing for Online Learners

Author Information
Janet Moore
The Sloan Consortium
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Pace University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Pace University develops secure testing procedures that enable learners to take tests regardless of proximity.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

A complete set of guidelines has been developed for the Proctoring Program. Policies and procedures are currently in effect. They are available online and can be accessed by going to the following site. The site is monitored daily by the Online Testing Coordinator who developed the data base and refines the testing and proctoring processes. The practice has proven effective during the 4 years it has been in place.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

learning effectiveness: Secure testing in distance education is a major concern for accredited colleges/universities everywhere. Pace University is an accredited institution and the NACTEL Degree program carries academic credit. Therefore, the issue of periodic student verification is very important when students are required to take examinations. However, this task is complicated since the students who are participating in our program are dispersed in various locations throughout the United States. How do we know a student in our program actually completes examinations without using resources that are not permitted? FIPSE funding has provided resources for work in three areas: enhanced student support services, enhanced mentoring and secure online testing. Work in the area of secure online testing has resulted in a fully operational proctoring system that was established by Tricia Ahern, the current Online Testing Coordinator. Tricia has developed this program and continues to oversee it on a daily basis. In the hopes of providing validity and security to any assessments offered online, a proctoring program was established in the fall of 1999. Over the past four years, we developed and expanded this program throughout the NACTEL program as an affordable means of verifying student identity and ensuring that the students adhere to guidelines when taking an examination. This program provides a solution that is in keeping with the asynchronous mode of instruction. The proctoring system incorporates designated proctors to supervise and administer any major examinations throughout the students' program at Pace. The assistance of a proctor enables us to verify that the person who completed the assessment followed all necessary examination guidelines and is actually the individual receiving credit for the course. Students are required to obtain their own proctor. A proctor must be a reputable person who is responsible for administering and supervising any major examinations that a student is required to take throughout their program. The students are provided with a list of criteria to help them determine whether a person would qualify as a proctor in our program. This list has been modified and expanded over time to include the following: - Supervisor within your or any telecommunications firm - Resource/General Manager within your or any telecommunications firm< - Corporate Instructor within your or any telecommunications firm - Union Representative/Steward within the telecommunications industry - President/Vice-President within your or any telecommunications firm - Principal or Superintendent of an Educational Institution, either public or private - Official Testing Service of an Accredited University or College - Certified College, High School or Elementary Instructor - School Guidance Counselor - Librarian - Military Educational Officer - Clergy - Law Enforcement Officer - Official Learning/Tutoring Center A proctor cannot be a relative, another student in the NACTEL program or a co-worker. A proctor's notarized signature is required before official approval is given. There is no need for notarization if the person is already approved as a proctor in our program or if the person is part of an Official Testing Service of an Accredited University or College or is part of an Official Learning/Tutoring Center. However, they are still required to go through the application process and to return a signed form. After a proctor has been identified, Pace University approves and records the final selection in the proctor database. We have worked on this database to improve the features and functionality of it. The current database enables the applications to be processed and tracked in a more timely and efficient manner. It also allows for quick and easy communication to the proctors and students when it's time to distribute the proctored exam information and passwords.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The service is free to students, proctors are volunteers, and the practice is a low cost means of enabling security for online learners.

References, supporting documents: 


Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Tricia Ahern
Email this contact:
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
David Sachs
Email contact 2: