So how can you stop your company being fined?

Posted by John Kleeman

The summer has seen a several large fines for companies who’ve made compliance mistakes – with fines reaching hundreds of millions or more.

These fines are hugely costly both in the money that has to be paid and the knock-on damage to the brand. But  how does a compliance department stop such things happening? Your company may be doing something illegal, and some employees may know it’s illegal but many may just think they are helping your revenue or profits, not realizing that mistakes are being made. You want your employees to be “happy to help”, but only if it’s legal.

One obvious answer is training. Regulatory requirements after the event often require training to be developed. And training people on the rules is definitely going to help. But it’s not going to find problems in advance, nor will it check they stay fixed. The best way to check if training has been effective and whether knowledge is retained is to use testing and assessment. Regulators agree; for instance the UK Financial Services Authority has said:

We note that, where staff understanding has not been tested, it is hard for firms to judge how well the relevant training has been absorbed.

And the U.S. FDIC Compliance Manual says:

Once personnel have been trained on a particular subject, a compliance officer should periodically assess employees on their knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter.

Is online assessment a magic bullet that will stop all compliance mistakes and future fines? No.

But if used well, it can pinpoint regulatory failings before they become serious and check your employees know and retain knowledge of the rules.Role of Assessments in Mitigating Risk for Financial Services Organizations

For more information on how assessments can help, check out Questionmark’s white paper on The Role of Assessments in Mitigating Risk for Financial Services Organizations (free with registration). Although focused on financial services, much of the paper also makes sense in other industries.

Very often, the vast majority of the company is compliant with regulations, but there is a problem in just one area. Online assessments are one of the few tools available that allow a compliance department and senior management to touch and get response from every one of their employees.

Providing you implement online assessment well (set up tests that cover the full range of regulatory liabilities, make sure that the testing procedures are reliable and trustable, and look at the reports and take action when you need to), then online assessments can substantially reduce the risk that your organization will break the rules and pay a fine.

Tips for preventing cheating and ensuring assessment security: Part 3

julie-smallPosted by Julie Chazyn

My previous post offered four tips on making your assessments more secure and preventing cheating.  Aside from verifying IP addresses and running a Trojan horse or stealth items to help detect whether a participant has memorized the answer key, there are some physical actions you can take to avoid the problem and reduce the temptation to cheat.

Proper seating arrangements for participants

Seating participants with adequate space between them and giving them limited ability to see another participant‘s screen or paper are important strategies for enhancing test security. The proctor should be aware of cheating techniques such as the ―”flying V” seating arrangement where the “giver” at the point of the V feeds information to a number of “receivers” behind them. The givers and receivers can communicate in a number of ways, using sign language, dropping notes on the floor, etc. (Dr. Gregory Cizek’s book “Cheating on Tests: How to Do it, Detect it, and Prevent it,” will tell you  more about this and other aspects of cheating.)

Example of the “flying V” answer copying formation (Cizek, 1999):

Using unique make-up exams

Many organizations offer make-up exams for participants who were sick or had legitimate excuses for not being able to take an assessment at the scheduled date and time. If you use the same exam that was administered at the scheduled date and time for their make-up exam, you open yourself to risks of the exam form being compromised. Sometimes the make-up exams are not administered in the same strict proctored environment as the scheduled exam, allowing participants the opportunity to cheat or steal content.

Using more constructed response questions

Constructed response questions, like essay or short answer questions, provide less opportunity for participants to cheat because they require them to produce unique answers to questions. There is no answer key to steal, and participants who copied other people’s constructed response answers are easily identified via a side-by-side comparison of answers.

I hope you enjoyed this three part series on preventing cheating.  You will find more information about  various means for deploying many different types of assessments in our white paper, “Delivering  Assessments Safely and Securely.”