CBT Simulation Listserv, Message sent 3/3/19

The reports from schools who participated in the first Statewide CBT Simulation on Tuesday, February 26th were very positive. Many have reported learning important steps they can take to ensure an even better operational CBT administration in their school. We anticipate that more schools are planning to participate this upcoming Tuesday, March 5th for the second organized Statewide CBT Simulation. For those schools that have already participated and want to share feedback, you can do this at any time from the survey on CBT Support before the end of the day on Friday, March 8th: https://cbtsupport.nysed.gov/hc/en-us/articles/360024591051.

In order to help schools better prepare for the second CBT Simulation, we’ve reposted the article about CBT Best Practices and “Tech Tips” that includes important reminders about disabling screen savers and system notifications that may disrupt the student’s testing experience. The article content is posted below for quick reference.

As a reminder, one of the biggest differences between the simulation and operational CBT is that students cannot pause and resume the practice tests. During operational CBT, all students will have the ability to pause and resume a test, such as to go to the bathroom, and the Proctor will be able to help a student resume a paused test with the Proctor PIN. When students resume a paused test in an operational CBT test session, the student will be returned to the last test question that she/he was working on within the test session.

Updated for 2019!

Best Practices: Computer-Based Testing "Tech Tips"


The following list provides "Tech Tips" best practices that our CBT schools can reference to make sure they've planned for the optimal computer-based testing experience for students in their school. 

Stagger student testing start-times within the testing group within your school.

Limit network activity that may impact bandwidth, such as streaming music and video.

  • Consider advising teachers (who are not testing) to refrain from using the network for instruction that consumes a lot of bandwidth, such as playing music or videos from the internet.
  • Consider disconnecting non-essential devices from your network.

Double-check wireless connections.  

  • If you are administering CBT using a wireless connection, make sure that the testing devices are set to connect to the correct WiFi hotspot.
  • Consider replacing WiFi batteries before testing day.
  • Make sure you have enough hotspots to sufficiently cover all student testing devices.
  • Be sure to test WiFi connections before testing.
  • Remember that there are non-technology causes for interruptions in WiFi service, such as proximity to microwaves in the teacher’s lounge.

Disable screen savers and system notifications.

  • Active screen savers can disrupt the test for the student, causing the student to have to pause and log back into the test.
  • The Questar Secure Browser is set to log a student out if the browser suspects the student is trying to get to another program, which can be triggered by a screen saver launching.
  • This is an intentional security feature.
  • System notifications, including meeting reminders and low battery notifications, will disrupt the test for the student, causing the student to see a "Switching Applications" pop-up error that "boots" the student out of the active test session. 

Avoid performing client software updates, patching, and data backups. 

  • Disable applications are set to run “behind the scenes” on devices.
  • When the computer starts an automatic update, for instance a Java or Acrobat Reader update, the Questar Secure Browser recognizes this as the computer trying to access another program and will log the student out.
  • This is an intentional security feature.

Make sure the device date and times are accurate.

  • The Questar Secure Browser is set to allow testing only during the testing window (beginning at 7:00 am on operational CBT testing days).
  • If the device date/time is not set correctly, the system will not allow the student to log into the computer-based test session.

Make sure student Testing Devices are charged before starting the operational CBT tests.

  • Student laptops and iPads should be fully charged before students sit for the operational CBT exams.
  • If you are a 1:1 student device school and students take their devices home at night, be sure to remind students to charge their devices the night before operational CBT sessions. 
  • Note that when a student receives the "Low Battery" notification pop-up, the student will be booted out of the operational CBT test because the Secure Browser will detect activity on the student testing device that is outside of the operational CBT test. 
  • This is a security feature.
  • Students will require assistance from the Proctor with the Proctor PINto re-access the operational CBT test. 

REMINDER: Make sure your student testing devices have the most recent version of the Questar Secure Browser installed. 

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Please let us know if you have any questions ahead of this Tuesday’s second Statewide CBT Simulation. Many schools used this as a great opportunity to streamline their internal CBT operations. We are so pleased to hear that this was a good and helpful experience.

As a reminder, you can always contact your RIC testing department for regional support of CBT, and you can always send an email to the NYSED CBT Team. We are here for you to help!

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