Dr. Jamie Mulkey, VP of Client Services, Caveon Test Security
April Edition
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Celebrating 15 Years with Jamie Mulkey
2018 marks the 15th anniversary since Caveon Test Security first opened its (virtual) doors. Caveon has come a long way since David Foster and the small band of colleagues first recognized, and decided to address, the industry-wide need for test security. What started as a small team of enterprising pioneers has grown into a one-stop-shop for test security solutions and thought leadership. In this article, a Caveon veteran speaks to her experience at the forefront of this burgeoning field, reminisces on the past decade and a half of progress, and ruminates on what the future might hold.
How has the reality of working for Caveon differed from your expectations upon joining 15 years ago?  
Initially, I thought the concept of test security would resonate with professional testing programs a lot sooner than it did. In my mind, test security made sense: If you wanted to have a strong assessment program you could trust, you needed to put in place formal processes and program requirements to protect your exams. But, as with many a new concept, it took time for the idea of test security to take hold in the assessment community. It took a lot of communication and perseverance. Quite frankly, it also took increasingly audacious and technologically-savvy test security breaches to occur for testing programs to realize that something needed to be done, not only on an individual program level, but as an assessment community.
What was the biggest obstacle Caveon faced as a young company?
Many young companies face hurdles as they launch new and exciting ventures. I would say a big obstacle for Caveon was creating “believers”—getting testing programs to understand the importance of protecting their testing assets and finding the resources and means to do so. Company budgets don’t all-of-a-sudden acquire resources (i.e., individuals, dollars, and activities to manage test security threats.) Getting testing organizations onboard was the important message that Caveon needed to convey in its early days to start the test security conversation.
How has your role at Caveon changed in the past 15 years?
Well, I’ve worn a few different hats working for Caveon. I started out as a Senior Test Security Consultant, where I was successful in bringing in some of Caveon’s first clients to the company. Many of those clients are still with us today. 

I left after five and a half years due to personal and professional reasons, and when Dave Foster asked me to return to Caveon, it was to head up our new exam development services group. This was exciting because Caveon could provide additional resources that would help clients get their exams developed and published. In addition, I was thrilled to be working again with a great group of dedicated individuals.  
In this last phase of working for Caveon, I was asked to rejoin the Sales team to provide consultative test security solutions to clients. It has been rewarding to discuss and demonstrate Caveon’s new technology offerings, and describe how they fit in with Caveon’s other services. I really feel we are on the cusp of truly preventing test theft from occurring.
What is your favorite Caveon memory?
In the early days of Caveon, Dr. Cyndy Fitzgerald and I did a presentation at the ATP conference. (I believe this was before it was called the Innovations conference.) The pre-conference workshop was called “DIY Test Security.” We used the Do-It-Yourself metaphor and dressed ourselves in woodshop aprons adorned with tool belts. The workshop was designed to get participants thinking about ways that they could bring test security into their organizations, doing some of the work themselves to save resource dollars. I remember there being a lot of participation and group discussions. It was highly interactive, and it did much to generate the test security story.
What do you think sets Caveon apart?
What sets Caveon apart is that we are test security experts. We have a single focus as an organization, which is to protect assessments so that testing is fair. This sets us apart as a company because testing organizations look to us for our expertise, to make recommendations, to support decisions, and to contribute to the field of assessment.
Why should people, both inside our industry and in the wider world, care about test security?
It all comes down to fair tests. We want everyone to take tests honorably. We need fair tests so that we can understand the true measure of a person’s abilities. This is so important from many different aspects—for example, qualifying the competencies of professionals, diagnosing strengths and deficiencies of students, or verifying skill mastery of military personnel. It all comes back to trusting the scores of important assessments that help make decisions.
How has your outlook on security and its role in the testing industry changed over the past 15 years?
My outlook has drastically changed since we started Caveon 15 years ago. What used to be a conversation of convincing programs about test security’s importance, is now a discussion of how can test security best support the program’s mission? How does it fit into the mix? What tools and processes should I be considering? Whom in my organization should I involve?
How has the world changed in the past 15 years to make test security more relevant? 
It sounds too cliché to say, but the world is getting smaller. What I mean by that, is that technology keeps getting smaller. As a result, technology used for nefarious activities keeps getting harder to detect. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “whack-a-mole.” Stamping out test security threats is like a game of whack-a-mole; as soon as we find a way to squelch one test technology threat, a new one pops up in its place. We have to get on top of these technological threats by thinking differently and addressing test security proactively so that no amount of hidden gizmos will allow individuals to gain an unfair advantage when they are assessed.
What is the most important impact Caveon has had on the testing industry and/or the world at large? 
Quite honestly, Caveon’s new SmartItems™ hold the greatest promise for proactive test security protection. The idea of creating and delivering this type of item thwarts test theft and cheating efforts. It should reduce these threats to virtually nothing. I believe Caveon SmartItems™ will have a great impact on the field of assessment as a whole.
Is there a lesson you have learned in the past 15 years at Caveon that you would like to pass on to those who are just starting out in this field?
Get your numbers ready. Justifying the expense of a test security initiative within an organization can be challenging. Knowing what it truly costs to develop your items – the personnel involved, the number of person hours, the types of resources needed, the publication costs, etc., will let you know how much you have at stake. For example, it’s estimated that it costs on the average of $1,500 to $4,500 to develop one item. Multiply that times the size of your item bank – cha-ching! It’s a boat load of money! Test security is an investment. It is a protection plan against the unthinkable. By understanding the costs associated with losing your most prized possession (your items), you can understand, and help others understand, the risk to your testing program.
What do you think the future holds for Caveon Test Security?
My hope for Caveon is that it continues to innovate in the arena of test security by bringing out-of-the-box thinking to the services and technologies it provides to clients. We are challenging conventional thinking when it comes to creating secure assessments, what tests look like, how they behave, and how they are delivered. I believe Caveon will continue to explore ways to protect the veracity of quality assessments.
Caveon 2003

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We have to get on top of these technological threats by thinking differently and addressing test security proactively so that no amount of hidden gizmos will allow individuals to gain an unfair advantage when they are assessed.
It has been rewarding to discuss and demonstrate Caveon’s new technology offerings, and describe how they fit in with Caveon’s other services. I really feel we are on the cusp of truly preventing test theft from occurring.
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