Security Update

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In our last few newsletters we’ve outlined Prometric’s investment in multiple security initiatives that span the entire exam lifecycle. We previously highlighted efforts within the areas of Results & Analyses and Test Development & Publishing. In this article we examine the new initiatives and the evolution of test security in the channel at the point of Test Delivery.

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Security Initiatives & Benefits

In our IT (APTC) Partner Test Centers

  • TCFlow – This new test center administration software provides improvements in security via defined user access rights and privileges and improved management of usernames and passwords. Its adoption and stability have resulted in a reduction in the number of candidates displaced by 7.7 percent. This is also reflected in a 22 percent reduction in calls to the Help Desk relating to the test administration system.
  • Software security suite – We are deploying to every IT test site a package of software that restricts what test centers and test takers can do while testing. It also further protects all test content when the center is not signed in for testing.
  • Forensics and site closures – Using the newly developed data warehouse and forensics tools we discussed in previous newsletters, we have closed 200 test centers year-to-date for actions detrimental to security. While other computer testing service providers may continue to test through those centers, Prometric is raising the bar on required performance, and only those sites who comply with our standards will remain in our network.

In our high stakes (AP&C) Test Centers

  • Channel DVRs – As of the writing of this article, 354 of the 357 labs in North America now have Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) fully installed, with the final three coming soon. Of our international labs, 74 percent will have DVRs installed by the end of the year, and the remaining sites will be converted in 2012.
  • DVR audits – Prometric Test Center Administrators (TCAs) have performed more than 3,000 remote DVR audits of their test center colleagues so far this year. Each site that undergoes an audit receives a pass/fail report. The results are then used to assist individual sites with identifying their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. The analysis also helps Prometric to identify trends in the overall channel that inform improvements we make in processes, training and technology. Under the TCA Champions Program the auditors return back as evangelists to their centers, armed with best practices and materials to help promote their adoption.
  • Hand-held wand metal detectors –Hand-held metal detectors are now fully deployed in our high-stakes test centers in North America and are scheduled for international deployment during the 4th quarter of this year. They are proving to be a strong deterrent to attempts to bring prohibited items such as cameras, cell phones or other devices into the test room.
  • Biometric enhancements – Prometric continues to invest in and enhance the biometric solution. The benefits are evidenced by the increase in TCA walk-through and check-in requirements, and by the improvements in reporting and data collection.

Both AP&C and APTC Channels

  • Channel staffing database – We are in the process of requiring all test center employees to access this portal, which will be used to provide all TCA training going forward. Through it, Prometric will be able to reach and communicate with our TCAs in a community environment – a one stop shop for all Prometric communications, documentation, training and procedural materials.
  • World-class test centers – Prometric continues to make investments and innovations that set new standards by raising the test center security and service levels in the industry. In India, Prometric has developed and recently opened for business two best-in-class centers, each with over 200 testing seats, across the AP&C and IT Channels. The centers have best in class equipment, training and security.
  • Secret Shops & Audits – Prometric regularly conducts thousands of DVR audits, site audits and secret shops of its test center facilities. This continued dedication to validating that our security requirements and standards are being met demonstrates the investment we are making in creating a culture of security. It is also one of our most important reference mechanisms in building a foundation for continuous improvement.
  • Enhanced TCA training and certification modules – Prometric made significant investments in a new TCA training and management curriculum that leverages interaction-based training and multi-media tools. This more intensive and interactive training increases attention and improves memory retention since it is more engaging.

AP&C High Stakes Exam Model

pyramid

As you can see from the simple diagram above, Prometric continues to reinvest in security resources and upgrade our capabilities throughout every step in the test delivery continuum. Securing each step in the life-cycle of the exam delivery fortifies the next step in the process. Security at the point of Test Delivery can be fortified through the use of intelligent secure test design (Test Development & Publishing) and test delivery software (Technology Enablement) engineered with security in mind. Secure business processes upfront, such as rigorous TCA training and the use of eligibility-based exams when consistent with program goals, can further reduce the risk. At the end of a test delivery event, forensics analysis of the test results (Results & Analyses) can reveal anomalies or patterns that spotlight security risks and threats. That information can then lead to adjustments in any of the other three components of the exam lifecycle, and investments can be targeted to those areas that provide the greatest return on investment and mitigation of the risks.