Academic assessment plays an important role in making decisions about the education of our children. We — parents, educators, and administrators — all depend on valid and reliable data. Yet a series of high-profile cheating incidents over the last several years has raised concerns about the integrity of those testing data. And even though every state has made an effort to prevent cheating, states haven’t always had access to a library of test security strategies that are most likely to work.
The Department asked the public for input on addressing testing irregularities. We received recommendations for policies and procedures from a variety of sources, including educators, academic researchers, testing companies, law firms, and nonprofit organizations. Subsequently, the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics held a symposium on testing integrity in Washington, D.C., featuring 16 expert panelists including many of the best thinkers and practitioners in this area. During the day-long convening, these experts discussed the most effective means to prevent, detect, and investigate testing irregularities in traditional assessment and in the technology-rich assessments of the future.
The Department has released a report summarizing what we heard. This report consists largely of the opinions of experts who presented at the Symposium or responded to our request for information. We hope that this document will be a starting point for further dialogue around the integrity of academic assessments and that it will help State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) identify, share, and implement best practices for preventing, detecting, and investigating irregularities in testing.
Jack Buckley is commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics