Document Imaging ‘Makes the Grade’ in Assessment Strategies’ Examination Marking Process
Assessment Strategies Inc (“ASI”) (www.asinc.ca) is a leading provider of customized assessment and measurement services that meet the needs of professions, business, government and the public. ASI designs, develops, and administers credentialing and continuing competence assessment programs, personnel selection tools, survey instruments and conduct program evaluations and occupational and competency research. With a long history in the assessment business, ASI has emerged as one of Canada’s premier full-service testing and measurement firms with an established reputation among it’s clients.
Providing a range of assessment services including licensure/certification, continuing competence, and employment testing and assessment requires ASI to process an important number of examinations on a yearly basis. The challenge for ASI for the new Canadian Registered Nurses Examination (CRNE) was to develop a solution to score short-answer questions (where candidates write down answers requiring one or two words up to a phrase), in addition to multiple-choice questions. A shortanswer examination can be comprised of an average of 10-12 pages and multiple markers are required to score all the candidate answers to the short-answer questions. In order to perform such a marking task, ASI has had to involved up to 60 markers for exam marking and processing.
To streamline the process, reduce its costs and increase its productivity, ASI engaged CDIT to design and deploy a solution for the short-answer component of the examination that would streamline and automate the examination processing and marking, moving to a digital solution where all candidate answers are scanned and stored for digital marking.
To address ASI requirements, CDIT implemented a Document Imaging system built on industry leading hardware and software from Fujitsu and Kofax Image Products. Under the new system, each completed exam booklet includes a barcode on every page of each exam. The completed exam booklets are scanned in a batch mode through a Kofax Ascent Capture Document Imaging system, where the exams are automatically separated based on barcode recognition technology.
To streamline [its processes], reduce its costs and increase its productivity, ASI engaged CDIT to design and deploy a solution for the short-answer component of the examination that would streamline and automate the examination processing and marking, moving to a digital solution where all candidate answers are scanned and stored for digital marking.
Each barcode contains specific information, including the candidate’s unique identification number, the exam and page number, and a sequence number. This information is read and captured through the scanning process and is used to manage the “parsing” of specific exam questions and answers into individual files.Through a custom developed component in the Imaging system, specific exam questions and corresponding candidate responses are automatically recognized on each page of an exam and “parsed”, or “cut out”, of the original scanned image. These exam “snippets” are then released as individual image files to a custom backend Web application.
Through a Web application, markers are able to retrieve the image files containing the specific exam questions and answers they are responsible for reviewing, and score the questions using a custom designed short-answer marking software developed by ASI. The system has greatly streamlined the manual, paper-based, examination marking process by eliminating the requirement for each marker to work through an entire exam booklet to manually locate and mark the portions that they are specifically responsible for. Now, markers have the ability to electronically retrieve and score the same exam question from multiple candidate exams, securely and accurately.
Through the introduction of Document Imaging technologies in the examination marking process, ASI has realized a number of business benefits, including:
- Reduction in exam processing resources, resulting in reduced operational costs;
- Enhanced security and accuracy of exam marking information; markers only have access to specific questions and answers;
- Reduction in document storage space resulting in reduced storage costs.