Eight reasons to welcome an audit of your assessments

John Kleeman HeadshotPosted by John Kleeman

Have you just heard that your assessment programme is to be audited? Does this make you want to run out of the building never to return? Or is this something you welcome, confident that your assessment will withstand scrutiny?

Whether the audit is formal or informal, aimed at your program or at an individual assessment, public or internal, one time or on-going, against a specific standard or against best practice, there are many reasons to welcome an assessment audit.Cartoon showing some office workers climbing out of a window and going down to the street ona rope with a caption "Faster! The auditors are half way down the hall!"

Here are the top 8 reasons to welcome an audit of your assessments:

1. A good auditor will focus on risk and look for areas in your programme where there is risk. It’s much better for you if the auditor finds risks or vulnerabilities, and you can mitigate them, rather than leaving them present and your programme vulnerable.

2. Passing an audit adds to the credibility and defensibility of your assessment or programme. If someone questions the validity or some other aspect of the assessment, or objects to their failure of the assessment, an audit can be useful evidence in your defence.

3. The audit may also serve as evidence that your assessment is valid, reliable and fair. If shared with participants, this can help reduce their rationalization to cheat. As I explained in my earlier post What is the best way to reduce cheating?, the more participants believe in the integrity of the assessment, the less likely they are to think it’s right to cheat.

4. Passing an audit can also be great justification to stakeholders that you are meeting the objectives that they have set and can justify continued funding or expansion.

5. One of the biggest risks of long term continuance of an assessment program is that too much information may be tied up in the heads of one or a few key individuals. If a key individual leaves the organization, the programme would suffer. An audit forces you to document the programme properly, which will help the organization in the event of employee turnover.

6. No programme is ever perfect. And peer review is one of the strongest ways of getting better. Independent checking and constructive criticism of your assessment programme will improve it.

7. Auditors are typically very smart people and they will have seen how many others do assessments. Feel free to joke with them that “Those who can, do; those who can’t audit!”, but in truth an audit is a great opportunity for you to learn.

8. Once you pass the audit, you can take personal pride and satisfaction from it having been completed. Ultimately, passing an audit is the most significant sign that your processes and documents are in order. Keeping everything in order is not a one-time event: It takes consistent and professional behaviors over time. You can be proud and your colleagues and superiors will also be pleased.

I hope this blog post helps you feel positive about the idea of being audited.

Want to learn more about preparing for an assessment audit? I will be presenting a session on audit-proofing your assessments helping you put things in place to prepare for an assessment audit at the 2016 Questionmark Conference in Miami April 12-15. You can register here.

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