the e-Assessment Association

Scaling up to global delivery while maintaining an individual focus

Scaling up to global delivery while maintaining an individual focus

A blog by Emily Worthington, Head of Programmes and Amede Anku-Roberts, Business Development Manager (EMEA), Pearson VUE

As we enter 2024, test owners will be revisiting their assessment strategies, looking to drive greater efficiencies wherever possible. While every organisation has its own strategic goals with respect to computer-based testing, a common priority is finding ways to successfully scale up exam delivery.

‘Scaling up’ could involve increasing the frequency of testing, offering more delivery methods, or providing exams in multiple languages and across different geographies.

Do you need to respond to a recent regulatory change within your industry? Are you supporting the future growth of your profession by addressing a particular skills gap? Perhaps you’re looking to make your assessment more inclusive or more accessible?

Any of these factors might influence your decision to scale up your testing programme in 2024 and beyond.

But how do you balance increasing access to your valued credential with maintaining the integrity of the exam? Do you have the necessary internal (as well as external) resources to support a successful expansion?

Based on our experience working closely with test owners of varying sizes and across different industry sectors, we recommend keeping the following considerations front of mind.

Look at your channel delivery model to ensure it’s fit-for-purpose

Providing alternative ways to test, by offering more diverse delivery options, can attract a broader range of candidates, widening participation in your programme. Depending on the stakes and how people want to take their exam, there are different options to choose from:

  • delivery across a global test centre networkonline proctored/remote assessments (convenient testing at home)
  • ‘classroom’ or ‘in-house’ delivery/using a training partner channel
  • unproctored delivery (on-demand delivery for maintenance of a certification, practice tests, or self-assessments)
  • or combining one or more of these options.

As you scale up testing, think about the delivery model that’s best suited to the needs of your programme, your organisation, and the candidates you’re hoping to attract. Evaluate not only the number of candidates you’re trying to reach, but the demographic of those test-takers, including any additional support requirements they may have. Bear in mind that the technical infrastructure in any new geographies you’re targeting may vary between different regions.

Localise the candidate’s exam journey as much as possible

Based on any new geographies you’re looking to reach, consider all language requirements to meet the needs of test-takers. If you’re expanding to a large-scale global delivery, think about the differences between cultures or nationalities when developing your communications assets. Will English be the primary/first language for the majority of people taking the exam? Do these professionals speak another language in their everyday lives but English in the workplace?

The answers to these questions will determine which of your communications need to be translated into other languages, e.g. website, learning management systems, exam content, exam delivery interface, and customer service support. Offering more language options could help to reduce friction during the candidate’s journey (as well as make your assessment more inclusive).

Consider the timings and locations for test delivery

Will a single day, with select locations globally and all candidates starting at the same time, be sufficient as you scale up your programme? Will this approach meet the needs of all candidates wherever in the world they’re based?

Offering selected testing locations may of course be necessary at first and transitioning from a fixed session on a specific date to fully on-demand (anytime, anywhere) testing may not be feasible. However, an incremental change like moving from a single day to a window of days with fixed sessions or even flexible start times could significantly increase access for test-takers.

Understandably, this type of adjustment to your programme has content implications, as you may need more questions to meet the requirements of global delivery. If constraints with exam content are an issue, changes to where and how a candidate can test could be the next best option.

Increasing access is a key driver for scaling up exam delivery and can improve the candidate’s experience. Whether you make incremental changes to your current system or choose to significantly scale up, maintaining the balance between access, security, and operational/technical feasibility, will be crucial in selecting the best option for professionals and your programme.

Review your content creation process

Introducing additional language requirements and increasing opportunities to test inevitably requires the development of new exam content.

Creating and translating your chosen content/item types can be time-intensive, so ensure you have allocated sufficient resources. Will you make enhancements to existing content ‘in house’ or will you need to collaborate with content development specialists experienced in creating new materials?

Do your current content creation processes/tools allow you to measure exam item performance? For example, a single exam form may be sufficient for an exam delivered on a single day, in one location, with all candidates starting at the same time. However, this would pose a serious security risk if delivery shifted beyond a single day. Additionally, with multiple exam forms or banks of items, having content in different languages means any action taken with one must be replicated across all language variations of the exam.

Evaluating your existing exam content tools/processes is an important part of setting up your programme for success as you scale up testing.

Layer up your security to be prepared for threats

As the popularity of your professional credential increases, so will interest from individuals who don’t follow the rules. As you scale up your exam delivery, consider the security applications, environments, and technologies you’ll require to protect your exam content at every stage of the candidate journey.

The assessments industry is continually challenged by threats to test integrity and we advise test owners to layer up security measures to ensure their programme is fair, valid, reliable, and legally defensible. A review of all your security measures should be a regular exercise as you expand your programme. What actions will you take if there’s a violation? Do you have existing policies that need to be updated?

Ensure all your decisions are data-driven

Test providers can gather a great deal of useful data about exam and candidate performance after each test has been delivered. Test owners can then make decisions based on these insights to drive greater efficiencies in the future. Some examples include trialling new questions within an exam or at the end. These can be unmarked for the purposes of gathering data about how well the questions performed.

How can you best support your candidates and help them to feel confident as you scale up your programme? Perhaps by providing practice exams or reviewing incoming enquiries to see how well-prepared candidates feel before they take their exam. You may need to provide additional information to make it easier to register and book, removing any potential barriers to the test-taker’s experience.

As you review your programme through 2024, we’ll leave you with these questions to consider:

  • How is your exam programme/organisation working to define, build, and sustain the experience your candidates have come to expect?
  • How are you ensuring your exam programme is as inclusive as it can be as you scale up?
  • As your exam programme expands in scale/reach, how will you maintain operational efficiencies?

 

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