Posted: September 5, 2018 | Press Release

ACT Invests in Open Assessment Technologies (OAT), the Global Leader for Open Source Assessment Solutions

Strategic Investment Will Expand OAT’s Solutions Portfolio and Advance ACT’s Transformation to a Learning, Measurement and Navigation Organization

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA and IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT, the non-profit learning, measurement and navigation organization known worldwide for education and workforce assessments such as the ACT® test and ACT® WorkKeys®, announced today a strategic investment in Open Assessment Technologies S.A. (OAT), the award-winning provider of open source assessment solutions and best known for its QTI®-native assessment platform, TAO®. Financial terms were not disclosed.

ACT’s investment affirms OAT’s leadership in QTI-based assessment solutions and will enable OAT to further scale and diversify its product and service offerings globally. In addition, OAT, as steward of the TAO open source community, will continue to integrate feature contributions by ACT and other leading organisations to the benefit of assessment users worldwide, providing a robust foundation for product interoperability, a key requirement for digital learning and assessment solutions across educational and corporate sectors.

“Both ACT and OAT are committed to delivering enhanced capabilities to customers more efficiently and at a lower cost compared to traditional offerings,” said Marten Roorda, ACT CEO. “The TAO platform reflects ACT’s vision of building innovation in assessment through the power of open source and open standards.”

ACT’s investment aligns with its goal to deliver digital assessments that support education and workforce skills measurement. Currently, ACT uses the TAO platform to deliver ACT WorkKeys, a comprehensive assessment program that aligns, builds and certifies the skills needed for workplace success. Tens of thousands of employers across the US and the world use WorkKeys assessments, and nearly 4.4 million credential certificates have been issued.

“We are pleased to work with ACT as we pursue a shared vision of spearheading and accelerating the adoption of open source solutions and technology standards to make interoperability a reality,” said Marc Oswald, co-founder and CEO of OAT. “The adoption of open source and open standards has become critical, because it enables the disaggregation of content and platform and improves system interoperability to support modern assessment needs and preferences.”

ACT joins European assessment and technology leaders Cito and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology as OAT’s institutional shareholders.

“At OAT we see first-hand the global demand for adaptive learning and assessment solutions that help customers eliminate proprietary data silos and empower them to retake control of their content and data, leading to a reduction in the operating resources needed—both human and financial,” Oswald added.

Since the launch of OAT in 2013, customers around the world have benefitted from having a sophisticated edtech partner who helps them transition to a digital assessment and learning environment.

By capitalizing on TAO’s QTI-native item bank, customers avoid getting their content assets trapped by proprietary data formats. And, by relying on the company’s focus on privacy and information security compliance, they increase the security of student and candidate data when delivering assessments at scale through the TAO Cloud™.

“The world’s leading digital assessment organizations have a very effective collaboration in IMS Global, focused on open standards for highly engaging and innovative assessment of learning,” said Dr. Rob Abel, chief executive of IMS Global. “The investment in OAT by ACT is further evidence of the broadening demand for innovative solutions based on open standards enabling the next generation of digital learning and assessment.”

About OAT

OAT is the publisher of TAO, the leading open source, scalable, and secure assessment platform available in a suite of off-the-shelf and software-as-a-service (SaaS) product editions. In addition to providing the #1 QTI-native content development and test delivery solution for education and employment, OAT also offers value-add, enterprise services and a portfolio of support and maintenance plans to its customers.

OAT leads the Open Source community, advancing the TAO technology, co-chairing the QTI standards committee, the Standard on CAT, and initiating and then chairing the IMS Executive Board on Assessment for two consecutive years. OAT is committed to the interoperability of assessment components and leads its customers in reimagining and delivering future-proofed digital learning and assessment solutions.

TAO is a modular, customizable, and interoperable suite of open technologies for meeting the end-to-end needs of digital assessment development and delivery—from individual classroom assessments that support personalized learning to national high-stakes testing programs. The TAO platform enables customers to develop innovative types of assessment items to collect rich and meaningful data that connects assessment with learning. With over 20 million tests delivered in over 30 languages, TAO is the de facto standard for delivering assessment and learning excellence based on open technologies.

OAT maintains offices in the United States and Europe. Visit https://www.taotesting.com to learn more about OAT and its TAO assessment platform.

About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a national leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career. To learn more, visit www.act.org.

# # #

QTI is a registered trademark of IMS Global Learning Consortium. OAT is a Contributing Member of IMS Global. For more information go to www.imsglobal.org.

TAO, TAO Cloud, the TAO logo, and the OAT logo are trademarks of OAT in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Contacts:
Ed Colby, ACT Public Relations

319.337.1147; ed.colby@act.org

 

Kristen Shue, OAT Public Relations

415.295.2950; kristen@taotesting.com

 

Posted: August 14, 2017 | Articles

The Importance of IMS Certification and QTI Compliance

IMS Global Learning Consortium develops and maintains, among other specifications, the Question & Test InteroperabilityⓇ(QTIⓇ) standard, to enable the exchange of item, test, and results data between authoring tools, item banks, test constructional tools, learning systems, and assessment delivery systems.

A lot of products and vendors claim QTI compliance, and even use the QTI name, but that can be misleading. Here’s the fine print: being QTI-compliant isn’t the same thing as being IMS-certified. The requirements for the latter are much more stringent.

With QTI compliance, a product’s implementation and interpretation of the QTI standard are often untested. If you assume interoperability because of the mention of QTI, you might be disappointed. Subsequently, when untested implementations of QTI-compliant products fail, it gives “interoperability” and standards like QTI a bad name.
 

IMS Conformance logo
IMS Global Learning Consortium conformance certified products are in a class of their own. The IMS Global conformance certification program is a testing program that ensures a product is interoperable and up-to-date with the evolving specifications. According to the official listing in the IMS Certified Product Directory, only two dozen products—and from even fewer organizations—have made the cut as some have multiple products that qualify as QTI conformance certified.

In 2014, TAO became the first product to obtain IMS conformance certification for QTI in all four categories: Authoring and Editing systems, Delivery systems, Item and Test bank systems, and most importantly, the QTI content itself. Taken together, they make test content completely portable, which is of critical importance as users migrate from legacy proprietary platforms to open, interoperable environments. Additionally, QTI can be used to create best-of-breed solutions; combining delivery and authoring modules from multiple vendors; where adherence is key in building these learning solutions of the future.

 

TAO uses QTI as a native format, i.e. items are stored in QTI. We don’t only import/export QTI, we store it natively and therefore item and test editors actually author QTI directly. This means no information is “lost in translation” from a proprietary internal spec to or from QTI. We have been actively working within IMS and the QTI Technical Working groups to assure valid implementations and therefore assure interoperability. For example: the IMS Global Executive Board on Assessment (which our CTO, Mark Molenaar chaired from 2016 to 2017) organizes regular “plugfests” to verify the vendor implementations, and based on the results improve the implementations and the specification itself (e.g. resolve ambiguities in documentation). Only organizations truly dedicated to the QTI standard participate in these plugfests.
Posted: March 2, 2013 | Business, Technology

Preparing for ATP Conference, Ft. Lauderdale

Innovations in Testing is ATP’s annual conference, bringing together assessment and technology professionals from around the world. In 2012, we went to this event with just one goal in mind: introduce TAO to a North American audience, and establish ourselves as a viable alternative to the proprietary systems that became the norm during the past decade. Our mission was a big success: we probably had the most visited booth at the event, and the market definitely took notice of us.

This year we’re returning with an even bigger story, announcing partnerships with two major industry players that will lay the foundation for many good things to come:

We’re teaming up with Breakthrough Technologies (breaktech.com), a veteran of the assessment software development industry, to bring open source item-banking solutions to professional certification and licensure customers in the U.S. and Canada. Conference attendees will see how they can achieve their test development goals by taking advantage of TAO-based item-banking tools to create a fully customized test development system at a fraction of the usual cost.

We’re joining forces with Cito (cito.com) to connect Cito´s assessment platform Questify with TAO. When available, customers will experience a seamless solution covering the entire range of low-stakes to high-stakes assessments. This is made possible by the use of open APIs and established standards such as QTI and LTI.

So, we look forward to this exciting event, and please… check in with us in a couple of days to find out how it went.

Posted: February 20, 2013 | Business

Just Moved!

We did it! A couple of days ago we left Tudor for our new offices at the Technoport (technoport.lu), a start-up incubator in the South of Luxembourg, and a truly exciting place! Not just because of all the other hi-tech companies here, but also for our new surroundings: we’re right smack in the middle of an old steel mill, a monument to the industrial revolution. You got to see it to believe it! Read More »

Posted: February 12, 2013 | Business, Technology

Impressions from ATP Innovations in Testing 2013

We couldn’t be more pleased with this conference. Besides generating many high quality leads, the ATP event also offered a renewed validation of TAO’s business model and vision: we were approached by several vendors wanting to integrate their products with ours, ranging from the content side to remote proctoring in high-stakes settings. This is key to our strategy of best-of-breed components, as it enables us to build out the TAO ecosystem into comprehensive solutions for our customers.

P.S. More about our vision and business model in an upcoming blog post.

atp-innovations-testing_3 atp-innovations-testing_2 atp-innovations-testing_1

Posted: February 12, 2013 | Business

Spinning Off…

As some of you may know, TAO originated as a research project between the University of Luxembourg (http://wwwen.uni.lu) and the Research Center Henri Tudor (http://www.tudor.lu/en). As a result of the successful deployment of TAO by OECD (to conduct their large scale, international assessment projects for students and adults – PISA and PIAAC), we started getting more and more inquiries from K-12, Higher Education and also the employment sector.

Soon enough we realised that TAO had the potential for something much bigger, perhaps as big as Moodle (moodle.com). And so we started working with Tudor to spin-off TAO into a separate, independent entity. It was hard work to secure all the necessary funds, but we did it, and the team is now ready to take the plunge!

Our first step towards an independent company is pretty basic, but tremendously important nevertheless: move into our own office space!

Want to see what our new home looks like? – Come back in a couple of days for the first pictures!

TAO: Recipient of the 2015 Learning Impact Awards Platinum medal

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