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Tips for Making Assessments Secure and Successful
Tips for Making Assessments Secure and Successful

Ways to make your assessments more secure and ensure valid test data

Rebecca Worden avatar
Written by Rebecca Worden
Updated over a week ago

Read on to find out our top tips for making your quizzes and tests more secure in Formative when students are taking them virtually!

Assessment Design

If your students will be taking the test outside the classroom, then even with browser locking technology such as Formative's Respondus LockDown Browser*, it may be possible for students to use outside resources to help them with the test questions (for example by asking a sibling, or by using the internet on a second device).

🌟 Choosing question types

Open-ended questions, and questions where the focus (and point value) is on the student explaining or showing their thinking, are more likely to accurately reveal student understanding in these circumstances. Examples of open-ended question types in Formative:

🌟 Short Answer: These questions can be used for sentence completion and fill-in-the-blank questions, as well as open-ended short responses.

🌟 Free Response: Students can type in a longer format in our Free Response questions, and can even add images and use the Math keyboard in their response. (Students of teachers with a Silver/Gold plans can also add audio recordings and videos to their Free Response - enabling them to create multimedia responses!)

🌟 Drawing: The possibilities with this question type are endless! Students can draw, type, and upload images (including photographs and screenshots) to the Drawing whiteboard. Take this question type even further by uploading an image of a blank table, graph, or graphic organizer to the background, or asking students to annotate a diagram or text! Users with Silver/Gold plans can add a Show Your Work whiteboard to any question!

In addition, consider adding an "integrity" question to your formative, asking that students confirm that all work is their own, done by themselves without collaboration. This could be a True or False question, or a Drawing question where you ask students to sign their names on the whiteboard.

*Respondus LockDown Browser (for school network-managed Chromebooks, Windows, Mac and iPads) is available as an optional add-on to a Gold plan subscription.

Post-test Strategy

🌟 Hide the formative after submission

Make sure you set the"After Submission" setting to "Make Hidden," so that students cannot click back into it and see the questions. You can also make the"Return Scores" setting "Don't Show Scores," so that you can make any adjustments needed to the scoring. You can then return to the assign settings later andupdate the settings to make the formative visible, and return scores to students.

🌟 Check timestamps

Every opening, submission, and individual response in a formative carries a timestamp:

This can be used to confirm whether a student worked at a reasonable pace through a formative, or if two or more students were working on a formative at the same time.

🌟 Enable notifications for post-submit edits by your students

The default notifications setting on Formative is for teachers to get notified when students make edits to their formatives post-submission. If your assign settings allowed students to access and edit after submitting, you will immediately get notified. If you prefer to not receive these notifications, you can disable them from your settings.

Silver/Gold plan Features

Teachers on a Silver/Gold plan have even more features to keep testing secure.

🌟 Make use of copy and paste alerts (Gold plan)

Formative will place an exclamation point alert on any response with copy and pasted material - even if the student later deletes and re-types that material.

🌟 Respondus LockDown Browser (Gold plan Add-on)

Respondus LockDown Browser (for school network-managed Chromebooks, Windows, Mac and iPads) is available as an optional add-on to a Gold plan Subscription to help keep assessments secure by preventing students from opening any other apps, tabs or windows. However, even with this browser locking technology, it may still be possible for students outside the classroom to use other resources to help them with test questions, such as asking a sibling or using the internet on a second device.

🌟 Multiple Presence Indicator (Gold plan feature)

An additional layer of security comes in the form of the Multiple Presence Indicator. This multiple-devices icon will appear next to a student's name on the teacher's Responses tab, if our system detects the student's presence *within* this specific formative from different devices simultaneously.

While Multiple Presence within a formative could be due to students attempting to cheat, it doesn't necessarily indicate cheating. It is always best to check the details for the overlapping user sessions to properly identify the situation and act accordingly.

To reveal the information about the overlapping user sessions detected, simply click on the multiple-device icon. The information will include:

  • The Device or Operation System in use

  • The browser used

  • The IP address

  • The time stamps for each session (first seen and last seen)

🌟 Audio Response and Video Response (Silver/Gold plans):

Instead of having students answer an open-ended question with text or a drawing, try asking them to speak aloud or record a video with their response. Or, add an Audio/Video Response question immediately after a Multiple Choice (or True or False, or Matching) question, and ask the students to explain how they arrived at their answer.

🌟 Assign different versions to groups

Duplicate your test, then make small changes, and use our restrict to individuals feature (Available both on Silver/Gold plans) to assign each version of the test to a different group. If you give the formative the same title, students won't know that they're taking different versions from one another!

An alternative is to assign the same version of the test, but use the "Display questions in random order" setting (available on Gold plan only) so that students answer questions in different orders.

You may want to have a scheduled re-test for any students whose scores were outside of expected ranges. Make a copy of the original test and make small changes, then assign it just to those individuals.

🌟 Schedule your formative and live proctor (Silver/Gold plans)

Schedule your formative to open and close at specific times, and you can live proctor your test! Students' responses appear LIVE in your View Responses screen, so you can watch students as they work through questions in real-time. You could even schedule a video call at the same time as the test for high-stakes assessments.

🌟 Set a time limit (Silver/Gold plans)

You can set a time limit on your formatives, to limit the time students have to answer! You can easily accommodate students who need extra time from the Classes menu or while assigning!

What's Next?

Go to our pricing page for more about upgrading your plan

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