Assessment services

female student doing an exam

Certification strategy

Deciding how qualifications should work – what assessment steps a candidate should go through, how scores are given, how results on different assessment elements combine, and how grades and outcomes are awarded – can be complex and have unexpected consequences. We support our certification body clients (in professional and academic sectors) in harnessing global best practice and local requirements to produce highly trusted and defensible certification routes.

Assessment evaluation and statistics

Our team of specialist educational statisticians undertakes the analytical aspects of assessment performance management. This team also provides support to regulators and government for programme monitoring of national assessments. We specialise in evaluation of qualification reliability and validity.

AlphaPlus helps ensure the proper working of qualifications and assessments and assembles the evidence to demonstrate this. This evidence includes analytical work, often on large datasets; field work with centres, teachers and students; reporting and evidence-led action planning. It often also includes training and capacity development with stakeholders, and support for strategic development.

We are excellent communicators, speaking and writing clearly and accurately and giving messages that are to the point and free of jargon. We provide realistic evaluations of results (not theoretical, not perfectionist, not partisan), advising our clients where and why we think improvements are necessary, but equally giving sensible, calm judgements of where services are satisfactory, or as good as they can be. Needless to say, AlphaPlus is accredited by government agencies as a responsible handler of sensitive data; we also have a strong track record of respecting confidentiality.

Examination design

We lead teams writing exams – establishing standards and specifications, recruiting and training author teams, managing exam quality and security, and delivering trialling and other calibration work. We manage development within a secure IT environment and can deliver for on-screen or on-paper exams, based on fixed papers or question banks.

Assessment trials management

Many exams are calibrated by trialling them in advance with representative groups of typically a few hundred candidates. This provides excellent data about exam and student performance but presents a significant security risk. We provide a fully managed trials service – recruiting and managing centres, delivering tests and marking responses – as well as undertaking statistical analysis to complete the review of draft exams.

Portfolio and work-based assessments

Alongside work on written exams, we support certification agencies in managing evidence-based assessments – portfolios, witness evidence, on-the-job assessment and practical examinations such as OSCEs. We have recognised expertise in the effective use of e-portfolios (and other evidence-gathering systems) for educational assessment, and in designing practical assessment systems for on-the-job training including witness evidence gathering, verbal assessment, skills assessments protocols, and management of internal and external verification processes.

Technology-based assessment

We are world leaders in helping certification agencies select, procure and deploy technology for assessment such as on-screen testing, on-screen marking/scoring and e-portfolio systems.

We support the technology cycle from conception to deployment and support: we advise on technology options, write specifications, manage procurements and vendor evaluation, provide training and capacity development, and manage technical implementation work for our clients.

We offer our clients the benefits of:

  • detailed understanding of the issues affecting the validity and reliability of assessments as they change from on-paper to on-screen delivery
  • support for specialist assessments such as adaptive tests and simulations
  • global market knowledge of technology suppliers and their products to assist with effective procurement
  • due diligence support for organisations looking to acquire technology companies working in e-assessment
  • practical knowledge of developing and delivering on-screen assessment ourselves

Training and capacity building for certification bodies

We provide training, consultancy and support for certification agencies, helping them to meet the needs of their 21st-century candidates.

Our services include:

  • Support for HR and performance management in certification bodies
  • Functional Skills services – all aspects of designing, delivering and awarding Functional Skills.
  • Regulation, compliance, policy and regulatory documentation services
  • Vocational Qualifications development services – designing qualifications from the bottom up, including for new and complex regulatory and market requirements
  • Assessment Quality Improvement service – a packaged fixed price service for managing test performance using a variety of statistical and qualitative approaches
  • Review and benchmarking
  • SecurePDF – a new web service to distribute exam papers electronically to centres, improving on security and greatly reducing distribution costs

Adaptive testing

Adaptive Tests modify the test content to suit the student: picking questions to present based on students’ previous responses (to probe weaknesses, present more challenging material, etc.). They can be faster to complete and more interesting and motivational for students. AlphaPlus is a recognised leader in the design and use of adaptive testing, both for formative assessments to support learning and in high stakes exams.

Policy and governance

Many exams take place in highly regulated environments where the stakes are high for the candidate, their training centre, the certification body, and the people who trust and rely on the certification awarded. We support certification bodies in ensuring that their qualifications are worthy of that trust – ensuring that regulatory compliance, governance processes and the performance of the assessments themselves meet global standards.