The innovations associated with the Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top, as well as the impending re-authorization of ESEA, promise to challenge the K–12 testing industry as never before. Multiple states will be using a common testing system, making cross-state comparisons easier. The results from these assessments may be used for teacher evaluations. Both of these practices will increase the stakes associated with the standardized assessments administered to school children.As the stakes associated with assessments increase, the security must also increase.

Test security is a broad topic that encompasses everything from the physical security of the test books being routed to a jurisdiction, to the data forensics that may be conducted following the test administration. It is common for K–12 testing programs to track test materials from the publisher's warehouse to the districts or schools and as they are returned. Wafer seals are also commonly used to protect the integrity of the test booklets.

Although these security measures are important, they are only the first step in protecting the integrity of the test materials. Other measures should be taken to protect the integrity of the test materials and test data. For example, continuous monitoring of test data through data forensics may detect unusual erasure patterns or aberrant answer patterns in classrooms. Professional development can be used to alert staff to common security violations as well as the consequence of those violations. With the promise of increased stakes for the tests, it is important that state departments of education collaborate with test publishers to improve test security practices.

In addition, the adoption of new technologies has introduced new challenges. The increasing use of computer-based tests, the proliferation of social media, and the widespread use of smartphones all represent new challenges for maintaining test security. Although computer-delivery of assessments solves some old problems of test security, it introduces new problems. Social media such as Facebook and online chat rooms offer test users platforms for discussing test content with other users. Additionally, smartphones permit test users to record and transmit test information quickly and discreetly. Each of these challenges must be addressed by comprehensive test security protocols.

In the coming months, CTB will be providing white papers, research presentations, and other content for you to reference for best practices in test security.