Rory McCorkle, PhD, VP of Business Development
February 7, 2024

Welcome to the revitalized Strasz Assessment Systems blog! In the coming weeks, we’ll delve into insightful topics such as Standard Setting and our tool, SetScore!, designed to streamline the test development process. Additionally, we’ll explore the trending subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its integration into our item development and item banking tools, with a focus on their applicability for our clients.

Welcome to the revitalized Strasz Assessment Systems blog! In the coming weeks, we’ll delve into insightful topics such as Standard Setting and our tool, SetScore!, designed to streamline the test development process. Additionally, we’ll explore the trending subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its integration into our item development and item banking tools, with a focus on their applicability for our clients.

In this edition, however, let’s turn our attention to the highly anticipated Association of Test Publishers (ATP) Innovations in Testing Conference 2024, scheduled in Anaheim, California, from March 3 – 6. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the conference, making it a particularly thrilling event for the assessment community.

As the Chair of the Board of Directors for ATP, I am personally thrilled to engage with our members, understand the challenges affecting their organizations, and collaborate with volunteers and staff to address these needs during the conference.

I am eagerly looking forward to the exceptional networking opportunities at the conference, fostering connections with colleagues, and gaining insights into the pressing topics of AI, test security, and effective marketing and communication strategies.

AI in Test Development

AI has undeniably become a game-changer in the assessment industry, the biggest evolution in the assessment industry since the launch of the internet age. ChatGPT was publicly launched during last year’s Innovations conference and ever since, there have been numerous webinars and case studies where testing organizations have incorporated AI tools into their operations.

There are no shortage of sessions at Innovations about AI! The conference will feature various sessions introducing AI fundamentals, discussing its legal and psychometric aspects, and showcasing existing capabilities and case studies. Other discussions provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about AI to experts in this space on the technology, legal, and psychometric fronts – such as the session hosted by the ATP Security Committee on Monday entitled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About AI… But Were Afraid To Ask”.

Here at Strasz, we are excited to be rolling out tools in the areas of item evaluation and content generation using AI. These tools can be incredibly powerful at identifying potential enemy items on exam forms and analyzing content you have created. The technology can also assist item writers in identifying distracters for that last one you just can’t think of! Please stop by our booth, #103, and speak to our team to learn more about what we are developing!

Test Security

The Innovations conference traditionally offers rich content on test security, and this year is no exception. A couple great sessions cover content for those new to this area – and I’m especially excited to hear from several experts in this area in Wednesday’s session, “This One’s Just for the New Kids on the (Exam Security) Block”.

There are also several sessions discussing specific strategies to assist with test security, including security audits, analytics to identify potential security issues, and the annual ATP Security Committee luncheon. This luncheon is always a great opportunity to connect with people dedicated to this important area and learn from their experiences!

There is also no better way to learn than to hear about the situations people have encountered in the past. The session, “Sherlock Holmes On the Job: A Collection of Odd Test Security Cases”, on Tuesday is one such example, digging into security scenarios, how they handled the issue, and lessons learned.

Marketing and Communication

Those who know me well know how passionate I am about testing organizations working on better communications with their prospective credential holders, certificants, employers, regulators, and the public. This year’s conference program features some incredible experts in this space discussing best practices and case studies in this area.

One such session features our ATP Innovations Marketing Chair, along with several other experts, to discuss, “The Marketing Blueprint: Strategies for Credentialing Growth and Engagement”. Not only will it cover traditional needs for organizations, such as social media and SEO, but also the use of generative AI in this area and how it can grow your testing program.

How to Connect

First, if you have not already planned to join us in Anaheim, we would love to see you there! Learn more about the conference by visiting the conference website, where you can also register. Or, if you want more information on the sessions at the event, you can access the full program as well.

For those attending, please visit us at booth 103 in the exhibit hall. Or attend one of our sessions – we have three sessions in the program:

  • Monday, March 4, 10:00 – 10:50 am: How Do You Spell Relief? T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G
  • Tuesday, March 5, 1:40 – 2:30 pm: Not One Item Less – Lessons and Tips in Managing and Planning Item Bank Merge and Conversion Projects
  • Wednesday, March 6, 9:40 – 10:30 am: Credentialing for Tomorrow

If you will not be at the conference, don’t worry! Sign up for our newsletter, as we will be holding a webinar after the conference to share with all of you the top learning that our team takes away from the event.

See you in Anaheim!

About the Author

Rory McCorkle is the Vice President of Business Development for Strasz Assessment Systems. With 20 years of experience in the testing industry, he is a recognized expert in testing and assessment. Having worked with hundreds of licensure bodies, credentialing organizations, and higher education institutions on their testing programs, he has helped them navigate strategy, product development and management, test development, marketing, and accreditation issues in their programs. When not at work, he spends his time playing sports in local Kansas City community leagues, playing music and singing, as well as spending time with his wife and three stepchildren.

John DeFalco, SR Software Engineer
August 6th, 2021

Ken White is a Scrum Master for one of our Agile development teams. He’s also our Production Support Operations Manager for the same customer. I don’t believe combining these roles is a practice unique to Strasz. What really sets Ken apart from most others is, he is also currently the Fire Chief for the Liberty Corner Volunteer Fire Department1. So, it goes without saying that Ken has both an educational background and practical experience to bring teams of people together with a high likelihood of success. We’ve all heard of the chicken and egg paradox. So was the fire department the chicken and his college degree the egg? Or vice versa?

Ken (left) alongside the Chief (middle) and Deputy Chief (right) of the Liberty Corner Volunteer Fire Department.

Ken White is a Scrum Master for one of our Agile development teams. He’s also our Production Support Operations Manager for the same customer. I don’t believe combining these roles is a practice unique to Strasz. I’m sure there are plenty of other leaders in the field that are holding down both positions. What might be rarer, Ken has a degree in Management Information System & Operations Management that almost exactly aligns with his current job responsibilities. What really sets Ken apart from most others is, he is also currently the Fire Chief for the Liberty Corner Volunteer Fire Department1. So, it goes without saying that Ken has both an educational background and practical experience to bring teams of people together with a high likelihood of success. We’ve all heard of the chicken and egg paradox. So was the fire department the chicken and his college degree the egg? Or vice versa?

James Lipton from The Actor’s Studio is often fond of saying, “Let’s start at the beginning.” Back in the summer of 1986, Ken was working as a lifeguard and snack bar manager at a local pool when a friend approached him about joining the volunteer fire department. He hadn’t previously given it a thought. Yet, he immediately became fascinated by the inner workings of how the organization came together as a team. He was impressed that such a large group of volunteers could be coordinated to achieve great things in the community. The do-it-yourselfer in Ken was also fascinated with the department’s dizzying array of tools and equipment. 

Later that same year, he went off to college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Ken conveys his choice of UNCG simply as “My parents could afford the school, and it was farther away than Rutgers.” As was previously stated, he pursued a degree in Management Information Systems & Operations Management, which was a natural choice, in retrospect. From early adulthood, Ken had a predisposition towards organizational thinking, technology, leadership, and management.

After graduating from college, Ken began his career at AT&T as a software developer and simultaneously became more involved with the fire department. He started his coding journey with an internal COBOL development program at AT&T. Ken rose through the organization over the next ten years. Ken eventually became a District Manager, with a staff of 80+ and 3 direct report managers. Concurrently, he rose through the ranks of the fire department. He became President, then worked his way up as Assistant, 2nd Assistant, then eventually Chief. At the fire department, Ken leads a multi-faceted team of 60 volunteers. 

The overlap of these two paths is significant. Both have a business and support side that require intense management, efficient organization, and experienced leadership at a high level. A software company’s business revolves around planning and scheduling releases, conducting regular status meetings, managing budgets, and interfacing with customers. The fire department is organized as a not-for-profit business and, as such, has a President that presides over the company’s business. This includes filing tax for

ms with the state, managing donations, fiscal planning, project planning, creating specifications, procurement, politics, and leading public meetings. Both positions require an individual at the top with stellar organizational and planning skills and a positive demeanor supporting customers.

For a software company, every product requires support. Users will encounter defects, and those defects must quickly be researched, verified, and remediated. Customers will occasionally have ad-hoc, high-priority requests in response to their own business’ stimuli, colloquially referred to as “fires” by the production support team. In parallel, the support side of the firehouse handles responding to dispatched 911 calls and extinguishing actual, physical fire alerts sent through an Incident Command System. When asked which fires are harder to control, Ken quipped, “The actual fires … usually”. 

On both fronts, teams are composed of individuals with specific roles and skills. For a software company, those roles are typically developers, designers, quality assurance, and IT. Team members use their varied skills and come together to create solutions. When a challenge arises, Developers will research the code base and provide technical solutions. Production support accesses the logs in production and applies their working knowledge of the system and the user’s workflow to determine how to recreate the issue. IT investigates network, security, and server-related issues. The fire department is similarly multi-faceted. The engine company performs fire suppression, the truck company provides ventilation and search capabilities, and others whose job is to provide a water supply. Clearly, both organizations need a respected and capable leader to coordinate the varied problem resolution activities in a responsive and professional manner.

In the summer of 2021, Ken celebrated his 35th year with the Liberty Corner Fire Department. I’d like to extend the celebration by adding to it Ken’s 35th year of applying, like Liam Neeson (Taken), “a particular set of skills,” both technical and managerial, to every aspect of his professional and personal life.

1 http://www.libertycornerfire.org/ – please help their cause by donating!