New testing center offers Pearson VUE tests to public, as well as services to AU students
When Kristy Tipton started working at Ashland University in June, part of her job was to get a new testing center off the ground.
Tipton, whose job also includes online program support, said she couldn’t have done it without the help of many people.
“This testing center can be used university-wide and the Pearson VUE component is already being used by the community,” Tipton said in mid-November at the center, which is in the basement of the university’s building at 930 Claremont Ave.
According to its website, Pearson VUE is the industry’s largest network of professional test centers with computer-based testing for more than 450 professional organizations’ certifications.
Recently, the testing center also became authorized to give Certiport exams for more professional certifications.
In addition to allowing the public to earn professional certifications, the center will benefit AU as a site for makeup exams, standardized tests and college placement testing.
The biggest part of it, though, is the Pearson VUE aspect of it.
Helping prepare Tipton for that was Terry Echols, an adjunct professor at AU who runs a Pearson VUE testing center for Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) at the Maple Heights branch. He allowed Tipton to observe his site one day.
“Employment seekers are continually adapting to an ever-changing industry and thus having a testing center in Ashland County will further support economic recovery and self-sufficiency,” Echols said.
Tipton said Echols was especially helpful in bracing her for the long list of Pearson VUE technical requirements, which include having cameras in the testing room, computer stations at least four feet apart and a secure testing site so lockers are needed for things like cell phones, watches, etc.
The university’s IT department was very helpful in getting the site ready, which took about a month to set up and another month to receive Pearson VUE authorization, Tipton said.
Through Pearson VUE certification, the testing center at AU offers thousands of certification exams, from accounting to insurance to telephone systems and everything in between, particularly teacher licensures. Tipton said she can give almost 500 different teacher licensure exams and, so far, most of the center’s testing has been those types of tests.
The testing center is under eAshland, formerly known as the College of Online and Adult Studies, but now offers all kinds of non-traditional learning for all ages.
“The goal of this will be a revenue-generating unit for the university,” said Shawn Orr, dean for eAshland. “It’s never going to be huge, but we do hope someday it will be able to cover itself. We get a small fee for each Pearson VUE test we give.”
Orr, who helped come up with the proposal for the testing center, has been helping fund it through her dean’s budget and anywhere else she can find extra money since it doesn’t have a budget yet.
“We’ve been able to get a lot of internal donations – old equipment and old lockers not being used,” Orr said. “The space was empty and we’re reusing furniture and computers that were in storage.”
To help with startup costs, Tipton applied for an Ashland County Community Foundation grant with the help of Sarah Swaisgood in the university’s Grants and Foundation Relations office.
Tipton taught Swaisgood’s son and daughter at Ashland Middle School, where Tipton was a science teacher for several years before making her career change to higher education, which includes working toward a doctorate degree in leadership studies from AU that she plans to finish in spring 2024.
Swaisgood said the testing center will thrive under Tipton’s direction because she brings many years of experience as an educator, is organized and is a natural leader.
“It will be a great asset to our faculty and students, serving as a dedicated space to administer standardized tests, as well as a space for students to take makeup exams, eliminating the need to coordinate a time and location that works for both professor and student,” Swaisgood said. “The university Grants and Foundation Relations office is always happy to partner with our faculty and staff to support the needs of our students.”
James Cutright, executive director of the ACCF, said his organization is always happy to help support Ashland University’s faculty and staff members like Tipton and its students, too, as well as the community – as this grant will do.
Besides marketing materials, the grant of a little less than $1,000 helped purchase things like erasable notebooks and dry erasers, noise-cancelling headphones and a white noise machine to block out the sounds from the floor above that houses the university’s Student Accessibility Center, Tipton said.
The Student Accessibility Center has a testing site for students with disabilities. Before COVID, the university had another testing site for about 25 years in the College of Education for teacher licensure tests.
“It is very good news that the new center is now open,” said Mitchell Slater, the COE coordinator of Blackboard, data analytics and Ohio Assessments for Educators test preparation at AU. “Many students have expressed relief that they may again take OAE tests here on campus.”
Because that earlier test site was Pearson VUE certified, Tipton said Slater has been very helpful with the new one, which is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and stays open one of those days until 7 p.m. once a month.
To find specific hours it’s open to the public, visit pearsonvue.com, which is also the best place to schedule tests, or check out the center’s website for more information at www.ashland.edu/testing-center.
Scheduling in-person tests on days it’s open to the public also can be done as long as computer stations are available, said Tipton, who added that the center is available to AU staff and faculty anytime by appointment. Tipton can be reached by phone, too, at 419-207-4998.