ETS Moves Forward on Computerizing Its Tests: Challenge by Test-Prep Firm Ends after a Lawsuit

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ETS Moves Forward on Computerizing Its Tests: Challenge by Test-Prep. Firm Ends after a Lawsuit

PRINCETON, NJ -- Despite the recent challenge the Educational Testing Service (ETS) faced from national test prep firm Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers over the security of a new computerized national admission test, ETS executive Robert Albright says his company is setting the industry standard for computer-based and computer-adaptive tests.

In December ETS sued Kaplan in federal court to block the firm from continuing to capture questions used on the computerized version of the Graduate Record Exam General Test (GRE). The questions were assembled from the work of about 20 Kaplan employees who posed as students, took the computerized test and memorized the questions.

The ETS lawsuit claimed that Kaplan set out to undermine public confidence in the computerized test because it was hurting Kaplan's primary business. ETS maintains that it has sufficient security measures in place to ensure the integrity of the exam.

On Jan. 2, Kaplan agreed not to "repeat its actions when testing resumed on Jan. 3," according to an ETS spokesman.

When computerized testing began to take shape at ETS nearly four years ago, "I think we were aware that the potential existed for something like this to occur," says Albright. "We did not think, however, that an organization like Kaplan would make a concerted effort to go and memorize questions."

Nearly one quarter of the 420,000 GRE test-takers are expected to take the computerized version of the exam this year.

The testing organization still must contend with security breeches that plague many of its paper-and-pencial exams, Albright says.

A New Age

ETS officials are predicting that a computer-based version of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) will also be available by the end of the decade for use by high school students.

For now, those students planning to enter graduate school have the option of using standard paper and pencils or computers to take the GRE.

But the ease in scheduling and the quick return in scores that GRE test-takers are promised when the they use the computerized version don't come without a price. The computerized version is $93 compared to the $48 paper-and-pencil format.

The National Teacher Exams (NTE)/Praxis Series is also offered on computer. Computer-based Praxis I tests cost between $65-$105, depending on the number of tests taken. Paper-and-pencil versions of Praxis I cost $45, which includes registration. Test fees for Praxis II assessments range from $25 each for three tests to $35 for a one-hour test and up to $50 for a two-hour test. …