Things You Didn’t Know About Test Security at ETS
Maintaining the security of our assessments at ETS has been a
decades-long endeavor. As testing has moved from paper and pencil to computer
based, and from test center to at home, the transformation of the testing
industry has been profound. With this evolution comes the need to envision
security in new and different ways and that we are continuously doing
everything necessary, and then some, to stay ahead of those who attempt to
cheat and harm the integrity of our tests.
As complex as the test security field can be, here are five things you
may not know (but should) about test security at ETS:
ETS’s Office of Testing
Integrity (OTI) has been combatting test fraud and cheating for over 64 years.
In coordination with highly
trained proctors, AI technologies and data analysis, the team works to analyze
scores and testing sessions that are suspected of having been earned or
conducted unfairly and, as a result, cancel test scores, should evidence
warrant doing so.
ETS has invested billions
of dollars over the last 6 decades in test security and technology
infrastructure to combat cheating.
We are investing to further
our technological capabilities and improve test security measures to catch even
the most minute forms of cheating. These capabilities and improvements include
but are certainly not limited to: continued remote access software (RAS)
prevention using ETS proprietary expertise and capabilities; enhancing machine
learning models to continue to detect dishonest test-taking behaviors; the
development of new and refinement of existing statistical evaluation models;
and continued research on new item types and assessment design approaches.
ETS can, and does, cancel
test scores — even after they are released to test takers and institutions.
When ETS has evidence that
a test taker’s scores may have been earned unfairly — a violation of our
testing policy — OTI can hold scores from being released to further evaluate
the testing session and score earned to determine whether those scores should be
Cheating on standardized
assessments is not unique to ETS.
Cheating is an industrywide issue which has been spotlighted by the boom
of the remote testing industry over the last 2 years. Although it is not
frequently discussed within the education sector, we owe it to our stakeholders
to keep them informed of what we are seeing, how we are addressing concerns and
our plans for the future. Unreliable scores have implications for unprepared
students who cannot meet the rigor of higher education programs and in turn
have negative impacts on hard-earned institutional reputations.
At home assessments have
contributed to an increase in cheating attempts among test takers.
With the new delivery model of at home testing, ETS has seen a more than
200% increase in score cancellations across both TOEFL® and GRE® test
administrations combined in our second year of at home testing (FY21) compared
to the first year (FY20). Although this increase has occurred, this does not
mean we have waned in our vigilance. In fact, quite the opposite is true, which
is evidenced by our ability to identify fraudulent activity and cancel scores
after thorough analysis and investigations have taken place. While there are
more attempts at cheating, by default, more scores are being cancelled.
By Ray Nicosia a Principal, Test Security in the Office of Testing
Integrity at ETS.