Assessment standards 101: AICC
Effective assessment often needs to be integrated with other systems. Some integrations are proprietary, but wherever possible Questionmark tries to integrate using technology standards, as these are longer lasting than proprietary solutions and allow us to build one solution which can work for many customers.
Over the years Questionmark has been involved in many standards initiatives, and I thought I’d share in a series of blog articles a personal perspective of some of the key standards that impact assessment.
I’ll start with the standard commonly called AICC or AICC HACP (more formally AICC AGR-10), which is used by learning management systems to call assessment content. Millions of Questionmark assessments are called each year via AICC, and it’s the most successful of all the standards we use.
The AICC is an aviation industry organization founded in 1988, the same year Questionmark. Airlines and airplane makers wanted a way to deliver computerized learning to help people maintain planes that could last the 20 years or so years that the planes themselves would last. The original AICC standard was file based but was soon updated to work over HTTP.
In an assessment context, the AICC standard allows launching and tracking of an assessment:
1. A Calling Application (for instance an LMS) calls an assessment system saying that it wants to start an assessment.
2. The assessment system asks the Calling Application for the details of which participant and which assessment.
3. The Calling Application replies and the assessment starts.
4. At the end of the assessment, the score is passed back to the Calling Application for tracking.
A key reason the AICC standard is robust and successful is that there is direct server-to-server communication. The two pieces of software communicate directly by HTTPS, and so there is no possibility of disruption or interference by anything at the participant workstation.
I was introduced to the AICC standard in the 90s by Bryan Chapman (now an e-learning analyst) and Questionmark supported it as a way of making it easy for people with LMSs to call Questionmark Perception assessments. We first became certified to the AICC standard in 1999 and we’ve been re-certified several times since. The great thing about the AICC standard is that it really works: Because it’s been tried and trusted over many years, I can think of at least 25 different vendors that Questionmark has interoperated with using this standard, ranging from PeopleSoft and Sun down to much smaller vendors.