CSM Testing Center Earns National Certification

Salman Zafarullah

The Testing Center at the College of Southern Maryland La Plata Campus has completed a two-year process to become certified by the National College Testing Association (NCTA). “The certification is rigorous, requiring that the testing center meet professional and standard operating procedures specific to national standards,” said Ronda Jacobs, CSM assistant professor and coordinator of information systems and technologies in the Business and Technology Division.

The Testing Center at the La Plata Campus administers more than 12,000 tests in a year, including tests for CSM students as well as those for area businesses, local organizations and members of the community, including professional certification exams and placement and academic entrance exams.

“Earning this certification was definitely worth it,” said Salman Zafarullah, the La Plata Campus Testing Center coordinator, who provided the bulk of the documentation and standardization of processes required for NCTA certification. While the effort added to Zafarullah's already full work load, he noted that the center's new status makes the center more valuable to the college and to the community. He estimates that the NCTA certification could increase demand for the center's services by 15 to 20 percent.

“There are institutions, for instance, that require their distance learning students to use certified testing centers for their exam to be proctored,” he said. Now those students can come to the La Plata Campus Testing Center.

“It is a great accomplishment for the college and the center,” said Dorothy Collins, director of CSM's Student Success Center, which oversees the testing center. “The certification is the ultimate measure of quality and accountability in our testing center, like a professional seal of approval. It assures the individuals who use our testing services that they are working with a center that follows national standards of efforts toward continuous quality improvement for the test(s) they are taking.”

There are also Testing Centers at both the CSM Prince Frederick and Leonardtown campuses, and both are also completing the NCTA certification process, Zafarullah said.

The three CSM Testing Centers are dedicated to enhancing student learning by providing comprehensive, accessible, academic and professional testing and assessment services. The centers adhere to testing standards and practices, safeguard confidentiality of student records, and ensure an optimal testing environment in order to meet the increasing needs of CSM students, faculty, administrators and community.

The NCTA is set up to promote professionalism and quality in the administration of testing services and programs. The NCTA Test Center Certification is the process whereby a testing center undergoes a significant self-assessment to show that it meets the criteria to be identified by NCTA as a certified test center. Certification is considered an acknowledgment of a testing center's adherence to best practices in the testing industry.

The CSM Testing Center services are part of a comprehensive system of Student Success Services provided at the college. In addition to testing, the office provides peer and online tutoring, skills improvement software, workshops on skills that contribute to successful learning.

For more on NCTA certification, see www.ncta-testing.org/tcc/. For more on CSM's testing centers, see www.csmd.edu/TestingServices. For more on Student Success Services, see www.csmd.edu/student-services/student-success-services/. The La Plata Campus Testing Center and the Student Success offices are located in the lower level of the Learning Resources (LR) Building.