ASWB exams moving to new testing software

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ASWB Exam Administration Director Tanya Carpenter and her team, along with ASWB test administration contractor Pearson VUE, have been working toward implementing a better test experience for licensing candidates.

“We started on this transition in 2020,” Carpenter says, “but the pandemic knocked us off track.” Now, however, everything is back on track and ASWB exams will move from test delivery software program Administrator to Athena. Pearson VUE owns both programs.

Athena is user-friendly and has more tools for test-takers who need to highlight content or review their test.
— Tanya Carpenter, Director of Examination Administration

The switch to Athena is well-timed. When ASWB contracted with Pearson VUE for test delivery in 2010, the association opted for Administrator, which was the older, more established platform at the time. More than a decade later, Athena is now the established platform and Administrator is being sunsetted.

“Athena will give our candidates a much better testing experience,” says Carpenter. “This platform is user-friendly and has more tools for test-takers who need to highlight content or review their test.” Plus, Carpenter says, Athena integrates better with software tools used by candidates with visual impairments and other disabilities.

The change of delivery software won’t change the exam content or scoring, and ASWB member boards that routinely download exam scores won’t see a difference in how scores are reported, Carpenter says.

  • Athena migration

    Key dates for ASWB members:

    • Last batch of 2021 exam scores will be available the week of December 27
    • No testing and no scores will be available December 24, 2021, through January 3, 2022
    • ASWB exams resume January 3
    • Scores will restart the week of January 10

Test-takers who have used Administrator on a previous exam should find Athena easier to use. Text enlargement is built in on Athena, for instance. Because it was an add-on for Administrator, a separate training module for users was needed. Another change for users will be the reporting of the preliminary score. Currently, a test-taker’s preliminary score is displayed on-screen at the conclusion of the test. With Athena, that score will be provided as a printout rather than being shown on the screen.

Athena will also offer ASWB more flexibility on the back end. Components in the test delivery system may be modified separately without a significant disruption to test administrations. If ASWB wants to change the closing survey midquarter, for example, Carpenter and her team can give Pearson VUE the modified questions and the change can be implemented before the quarterly updates. These tools will make ongoing maintenance of the exam more responsive and flexible, Carpenter says.

Moving from Administrator to Athena won’t be as simple as flipping a switch, however. Pearson VUE has established blackout dates for ASWB exams at the end of the calendar year to make room for the transition. Beginning December 24, no ASWB exams will be administered until Monday, January 3. Because Carpenter and her counterparts at Pearson VUE mapped out the change far in advance, those dates were blocked from scheduling early on to minimize having to reschedule exam appointments.

“Given the reduced capacity during the pandemic,” says Carpenter, “it was really important for us not to have to bump a lot of candidates. We wanted to make sure we didn’t add to the candidates’ stress.”