Tuesday, March 30, 2010

5 Keys to Creating a Successful Testing Program

Let me begin by saying that an effective testing program is dynamic and never static. Skills standards, curriculum, assessments, and instructional methods should always be in a state of change. We should always be asking questions, conducting research, constructing hypotheses, experimenting with our methods, analyzing our data, forming our conclusions and communicating our results. I know, I know...the scientific method can and should be used just about anywhere. So here are what I believe are the five keys to implementing a successful testing program:

1. Everything begins with the skills standards.
This is the foundation for everything you do in the classroom. What duties and tasks are you teaching to? Do you have national standards that your program can tie too? Fortunately, the CareerTech Testing Center has 100+ sets of skills standards that are offered for free on our website. Many of them are national standards for their respective programs and others are endorsed or aligned with national groups or industries. Our goal, on any skills standards development, is a 3:1 industry to instructor ratio. We want the standards to be driven by industry!

2. Curriculum choices must align with the skills standards.
Both CIMC and MAVCC are excellent resources that that will help you in that effort. CIMC and MAVCC have customers from all across the United States and around the world. High school programs, area technology centers, junior and community colleges, proprietary schools, and government agencies are current users of each of their products. Business and industry customers are also learning of the training and cost advantages of using CIMC and MAVCC instructional systems. Several industry groups and trade associations have participated in the development of their products and services.

3. Assessments should be built upon the skills standards.
The CareerTech Testing Center offers 100+ online competency assessments that are constructed from the industry-driven skills standards that we create. The frequency and criticality ratings are used to guide the creation of test items. All test items are in multiple choice format and constructed by subject matter experts.

4. Analyze feedback from all test administrations.
Each examinee is provided with a coaching report that provides not only the overall result, but scores are broken down by duty area. Results should be analyzed for each individual student (relative strengths and weaknesses), for an individual instructors and for the overall program. In other words, did an instructor adequately cover the standards? Did your curriculum align to the standards? Did the program meet your needs at the local or state level?

5. Implement improvements.
Now you have your data and formed your conclusions. Make your changes and improve your program. It may seem like a lot of work but a dynamic environment is always changing and to me, that is a STATE OF EXCITEMENT!

The testing season is now upon us and I HOPE you are analyzing your results for program effectiveness! It's also a great time to plan for next year by reviewing the CareerTech Testing Center's skills standards and assessments and curriculum from CIMC and MAVCC.

This post is actually a repeat of a post that I made at the end of May 2009, but I always thought that I had presented it at the wrong time of year.  I do feel better now that my conscience is clear and I hope you will contact us and let us know how we can assist you with your testing needs!

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