Certiport Launches E-Services

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Certification starts as early as junior high school these days. Certiport, which provides industry-leading training, assessment and certification solutions like the Microsoft Office Specialist and the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³), announced new e-services for young test-takers and partners through its new Web site, http://www.certiport.com. These e-services include online exams for (IC³) certification, along with a host of portal enhancements through the company’s Web site. New career planner, PDF certificates and digital transcript features allow test-takers and certified individuals to better plan and manage their certification pathway. Test center and courseware partners can take advantage of single sign-on access to multiple resources, as well as greater flexibility and mobility of online exam delivery.

The new Certiport portal delivers personalized and customized e-services for test-takers, certified individuals, teachers, students, knowledge workers, administrators and others using the system. Some of the new features include: career planner, self-assessment, multiple roles, role-specific activities and a customized sitemap based on roles.


Currently delivered by thousands of testing centers worldwide, the IC³’s three exams cover essential concepts, such as Internet and e-mail use, basic hardware and software knowledge, and the ability to use common programs, including word processor and spreadsheet applications.


The state of Utah was one of the first in the United States to adopt the IC³ standard, and as of September 2003, those at the high school level must fulfill a state-level computer literacy requirement in order to graduate. “We’ve mapped out a process whereby high school students can begin with digital literacy on the IC³ level and move onto the Microsoft Office program at the core and expert level,” said David Saedi, CEO, Certiport. “At other times people use the Microsoft Office Specialist level of accomplishment for an exit graduation credential. In the United States we have the American Council on Education that awards university or college level credit, so if your college or university is part of the ACE you can use this and apply for a unit of credit at the college level. That applies to a single Microsoft Office Specialist exam or a certification on IC³. Overseas, for example in the United Kingdom, it forms a part of the OCR, the Oxford Cambridge Royal Society of Art qualification. They’re known as CLAIT, Computer Literacy and Information Technology, so they become part of larger courses and the credit goes through the national qualifications bodies in the UK, Ireland and Scotland. We’re doing the same thing in New Zealand and soon in South Africa. Global qualifications now have a level of acceptance around the world that’s basically at the entry level for college.”


The new Internet exam delivery reduces administrative complexity and eliminates hardware budget barriers for more than 3,000 existing testing centers and the 70-plus new centers that partner with Certiport each month to offer IC³ training and testing. Previously requiring dedicated testing workstations, IC³ exams now provide secure, proctored environments through a Web browser. This is advantageous for budget-strapped schools seeking to integrate IC³ into their educational programs so students can learn the latest computing and Internet fundamentals.


“Tests are validated online,” said David Griffiths, director of operations, Certiport. “At the end of each question there is an evaluation process done and a recovery process created so as the exam proceeds each question is evaluated, scored and put into a recovery file. The proctor’s purpose is to come in, verify and validate candidates and individuals, verify and confirm identity, monitor the evaluation process itself and make sure that the integrity of the exam is maintained and to step in, in the event something unexpected happens.”


“All tasks are scored on the end result unless a particular method is specified,” said Cristina Goodwin, manager of exams development, Certiport. “These are performance-based questions that require the test candidate to perform a series of specified tasks. The method they use is totally irrelevant. The item is scored on whether they’ve completed the task. They can choose whichever way they prefer to complete that task for the Microsoft Office Specialist exam. The IC³ exam is slightly different.”


“One thing that’s nice about the format and the performance-based certifications that we use is that instead of it being a multiple-choice question, we’re actually asking people to perform specific tasks,” said Griffiths. “If you were to find out a task required on the exam, you would still have to go out and learn how to perform that task within the application itself. The very nature of a performance-based certification alleviates a lot of the concerns about cheating. We have built into our exam process a couple of features that we have been requested to put in and some disabling functionality to ensure that the individuals are using their own knowledge and are not allowed to get onto the Internet or establish outside communication.”


There are multiple forms of the exams, and the questions are randomized so that test candidates who need to repeat the exam cannot get the same questions in the same sequence twice. Nor would two candidates sitting near each other be working on the same questions at the same time. Certain keystrokes like the start bar and task manager have also been disabled to prevent test takers from getting into other applications. Additionally, every candidate and proctor for the Microsoft Office Specialist and the IC³ exam is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.


For more on this topic, visit http://www.certiport.com.

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