[IPAC-List] Computer assisted testing

White, Don DWhite1 at Columbus.gov
Wed Feb 9 16:18:37 EST 2011

Here's a copy of what I sent to Keith re: the software we use . . . .

We are using 3 different software programs in Columbus for different aspects of computer testing. All three are loaded on our network - we're not on the cloud with them. We administer in our test center - 25 computers - proctored. The programs are:

SkillCheck (First Advantage Co. www.fadv.com)- used to test basic clerical skills (filing, spelling, grammar, letter formatting, typing, data entry), software skills (Access, Word, Excel, Outlook, the internet, etc.), computer tech skills (digital literacy, Windows, etc.), and call center/customer service skills (uses headphones, runs through a call center simulation, candidates respond on the computer via simulated data entry screens - used for our non-emergency call center customer service positions). The stimulus material is very face valid. For example, candidates might be presented with a simulated Word screen and asked to bold a certain passage, cut and paste, change font, move columns/cells/rows in Excel - they actually perform the task and the software determines correct or not. We can select number of tries permitted. The program will keep time and cut off at the time limit. We can also write our own multiple-choice items and put them into a test.

CritiCall (www.biddle.com, www.criticall911.com) - used for 911 dispatcher positions. Another very face valid job simulation package. Candidates wear headphones and receive stimulus material both orally and on screen. The program has a lot of subtest options, so you set up to test the skills that are most relevant to your particular job, such as data entry (oral and written), decision making, prioritizing, multi-tasking, memory/recall, etc. I can't say enough about this program - extremely robust/versatile/face valid - and pretty much runs flawlessly (we are testing 911 operator as I write this - of the over 300 candidates tested so far, we've had 1 computer problem, and I'm not convinced it was a software issue!).

Sigma (www.neogov.com): Sigma was bought by NeoGov a couple of years ago. NeoGov is working on an interface between the Sigma Test Management System (TMS - item bank, test publishing) and the NeoGov applicant tracking program (on the cloud/enterprise). We use Sigma TMS to develop all of our multiple-choice, T&E, and written work sample tests. It has a feature that allows us to administer on computer/responses are entered directly into the software program. We have not used this as much as we should, but the option is there. I'm not sure what NeoGov's plans are for the TMS side of things, but I think they have a process in place to use the NeoGov on-line application package in conjunction with Sigma TMS.

Please note that we have the facilities to administer computer exams. We also use the computers for most of our written work sample/short answer exams by setting up a Word document as a form and having candidates type their answers into the form, which eliminates the illegible handwriting concern. We also proctor all of our tests - still a little concerned with security issues of candidates sitting at home taking a test on their computer.

And here's some additional info on the facility:

The test center has 50 carrels with computers at 25 - I have photos I can email direct, but I don't think the list will allow me to send attachments. We hope to move to a new location in 2012 that will have 40 carrels, each with a computer. Current carrels are 30" wide, which we have found to be a little cramped, so the new ones will be 36" wide. Side walls are 40" tall, which requires filters on the computer screens - 48" side walls would eliminate the need for filters. There should be at least 5' between the rows (from keyboard to keyboard). I recommend at least that much to be able to walk between the rows. Although our computers are on the network, they are locked down in terms of access (no internet, etc.). I think our original cost was around $1000 per carrel, but I have no idea what it would be in today's market.

Don White
Personnel Analyst Supervisor
Civil Service Commission
Columbus, Ohio

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Wilkening, Kurt
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2011 10:27 AM
To: keith.poole at phoenix.gov; IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Computer assisted testing

I'm interested in learning what other jurisdictions are doing in this area as well. Not only in terms of software, but the space and hardware(furniture) requirements needed to turn a basic card tables/fold up chairs/scantron forms/paper and pencil type operation into a dual purpose testing/training type facility. For example, http://www.versatables.com/pages/products/school/revolution-desk-72.php#
(no affiliation or previous purchase, just an example).

So I'd be very grateful as well if someone from the previous mentioned jurisdictions, and others not listed who've implemented computer-based proctored testing could forward to the listserv (or Keith) any information they have on software and hardware setup.


Kurt Wilkening, Division Chief
Recruiting, Testing, and Certification
Hillsborough County Civil Service Board
601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 17th Floor
Tampa, Florida 33602
(813) 274-6764 (Direct)

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of keith.poole at phoenix.gov
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2011 4:11 PM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: [IPAC-List] Computer assisted testing

One item on our division to-do list this year is to "develop
recommendations regarding the use of computer assisted testing." Basically
we understand this to mean any technology as an alternative to using paper
and pencils when conducting multiple choice tests (e.g., anything from
off-the-shelf software loaded onto individual PCs or network running
in-house developed tests, to using online tests from vendors, proctored or
unproctored, etc.).

I have seen the slides from last years IPAC conference (CPS did a couple
on this topic) and those were helpful, I've also signed up for their
webinar next week. We're also familiar with National Testing Network.

I would appreciate hearing from agencies that have researched or adopted
computer assisted testing in one form or another. Thanks.

Keith Poole
Human Resources Supervisor
City of Phoenix Human Resources Dept
Employment Services
(602) 262-7140
keith.poole at phoenix.gov

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