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Case Study: Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP), Colombia

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ASC partners with Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP) to develop and securely deliver nationwide civil service exams in Colombia as well as admissions exams for educational programs in the field of civil service.  We worked together to provide a comprehensive solution to modernize these assessments when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  Learn more below!

Requirements For Escuela Superior de Administración Pública

Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP) is a public Colombian institution which offers educational programs for bachelor and post graduate degrees, but it’s also involved in the development of custom tests for governmental pre-employment programs. That means they are constantly searching for better solutions to meet their assessing needs. The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 pushed them to look for online solutions for their civil service exams, but just as important, simple and easy to understand solutions to assess all kinds of populations, from prospective students to high level professionals to fill directive governmental positions all across the country.

When they faced this immediate need, ESAP understood that their best bet would be to look for existing solutions rather than developing their own. However, after trying other online services, they discovered they had very specific needs that required an strategic ally instead of a mere deliverer of prebuilt tests.  Requirements includes professional item banking, online test delivery, and modern psychometrics like item response theory and adaptive testing.  It also required a candidate interface in Spanish, and the option for remote proctoring in Spanish.  ASC’s FastTest platform was an ideal fit.

¿Qué Es La Vigilancia (Proctoring) En Línea?

Project Approach

Psychometrician and decision maker teams from Escuela Superior de Administración Pública met with our expert and bilingual staff to adequately understand their needs, as they were not fluent English speakers. From there, we could offer the tools that better fit them and offered our support throughout their planning and designing process. When we started working together, ESAP already had upcoming test deliveries and the best option from scratch was to look for configurations as clean and straightforward as possible, given the fact that ESAP constantly assess populations all across the country and their stakeholders always look for successful projects, where absenteeism rate is not a hurdle to their objectives.bogota Escuela Superior de Administración Pública

Implementation

The key evidence of the successful implementation of the FastTest platform into ESAP’s daily work is that they were able to keep up with their tight agenda, which includes parallel projects and activities of item banking, online test deliveries, scoring and report making. Such experience made ESAP pioneers in Colombia in using tools designed specifically for these purposes, instead of adapting other platforms they previously used and spending valuable time of their team in operative activities. Our support team took ESAP’s needs very seriously, lending a hand to do some of the operative duties when a big number of different tests were being created.

Furthermore, these accomplishments encouraged ESAP to go for more projects, and the satisfaction of their contracting institutions has been the best presentation for new clients to earn their trust to supply their assessing needs.

Regional Challenges

Colombia is a country located in South America, and its only official language is Spanish. Some percentage of their inhabitants in main cities have skills in other languages, but a vast majority of their total population do not have any. This challenge required a service provider with Spanish language support, allowing to present all dialogs and navigation options in this Spanish. This strategy also had to go along with a solid communication campaign to make the whole assessing process easy and even familiar to the examinees. This was a key strategy to ensure their best attitude, as online assessments have been used in Colombia in various contexts, but never before in such big and high stakes projects as these civil service exams and admissions tests.

Technical / Digital Challenges

One of the main concerns the ESAP had when they considered moving to an online solution was if it would be harder for participants to take their exams, given the fact that Colombia is a country with great challenges regarding the internet coverage and a large portion of their population is not used to handling computers. From the very first test delivery, the absenteeism rate was equal to the one observed in previous paper-and-pencil assessments they led before, allowing them to believe that going for this online strategy was easy to understand, thanks to its straightforward user interface.

The support that ASC provided to the ESAP includes bilingual staff to support any kind of questions they may have as administrators or requests from their stakeholders and legal requirements, as well as assistance to those examinees who might need help or guidance with their processes and procedures. We have also set a communication strategy between ESAP and ASC to let us know when the big test deliveries are coming, to adjust our servers and configurations accordingly.

Scale and Complexity

To understand the nature and complexity of ESAP’s activities, we need to mention that they’re usually involved in all kinds of different and parallel projects. That means they must design a workflow to accomplish their goals in projects where they need to assess different traits in different demographic populations. They manage quick projects to select their provisional staff, assessments to select their prospect students and high stakes projects to select the best candidates to fill all kinds of governmental positions.

To select their students, ESAP uses tests that includes general and specific competencies related to the field they intend to study. For the pre-employment programs, ESAP designs and delivers hybrid tests to assess both personal competencies required for the job and behaviors expected from the candidates. The objectives of the assessing are defined by the kind of process, field, and level (or background) required.

Results

The flexible online testing solution has allowed Escuela Superior de Administración Pública to successfully deliver exams for top-level positions with only 1 applicant, all the way up to sessions for more than 12 thousand examinees simultaneously.  ASC has been working together with ESAP for two years now, and we have delivered around 90 thousand online tests during that time.  The project was successful enough that other institutions in Colombia have invited ESAP to serve as a consultant or vendor to them.

 

Authors: Nathan Thompson & Leonardo Copete Parra

 

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Nathan Thompson, PhD

CEO at Assessment Systems
Nathan Thompson, PhD, is CEO and Co-Founder of Assessment Systems Corporation (ASC). He is a psychometrician, software developer, author, and researcher, and evangelist for AI and automation. His mission is to elevate the profession of psychometrics by using software to automate psychometric work like item review, job analysis, and Angoff studies, so we can focus on more innovative work. His core goal is to improve assessment throughout the world. Nate was originally trained as a psychometrician, with an honors degree at Luther College with a triple major of Math/Psych/Latin, and then a PhD in Psychometrics at the University of Minnesota. He then worked multiple roles in the testing industry, including item writer, test development manager, essay test marker, consulting psychometrician, software developer, project manager, and business leader. He is also cofounder and Membership Director at the International Association for Computerized Adaptive Testing (iacat.org). He's published 100+ papers and presentations, but his favorite remains https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol16/iss1/1/.

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