Columbus Startup Brings Test Proctoring Into the 21st Century

How uses artificial intelligence to preserve testing integrity from anywhere in the world

Think back to the last time you took a proctored test — perhaps it was the SAT or ACT in high school. Maybe you’ve had to take a skills test for a job. These types of tests have historically been similar. You gather in a room with several others and a proctor walks around, periodically looking at test-takers to ensure no one is cheating or copying. It was a tried and true method with no need to update the model, right? Not in the eyes of Columbus startup or the many customers who have come to depend on them in our increasingly remote world.

“Our technology allows universities and training organizations to deliver assessments remotely and at the test-taker’s home and preserve the integrity of the assessment,” said co-founder and CEO Noor Akbari. “The special sauce of our company is that our technology is powered by artificial intelligence; 95% of the process is fully automated. That allows for scalability, cost savings and a more comfortable experience for the test-taker. We provide the ability to deliver assessments anywhere at any time, from low-bandwidth situations to internal environments. We’re bringing all the benefits that technology and AI provide to the old and archaic assessment and proctoring industry.”

The old-school approach to test proctoring involves several variables eliminated by Rosalyn’s tech. Most importantly, it doesn’t require a person to be present with test-takers. But it also makes observation more accurate — instead of one person paying partial attention to 10 or 20 examinees, the AI monitors test-takers individually, reading visual cues and taking signals from keyboards and devices. If the AI detects a violation, the event is escalated to a human who makes the ultimate decision after test-takers are warned.

“When a student takes a test, universities are keen to make sure that they don’t violate the exam rules,” said Akbari. “That’s simple for a traditional test on a campus, in a classroom or a test center where somebody is watching you. But in a remote world, it is a bit more difficult. Sometimes, organizations use video conferencing apps and one proctor watches multiple people. That method is not scalable and is very expensive and difficult. AI does the job of that human watching. It analyzes nine different data sources, including the keyboard and mouse as well as visual cues like students looking down their computer or ID verification. If they violate an exam rule, it gently tells them, ‘Hey, stop playing with your phone or looking away or reading something.’”

If the utility of Rosalyn’s technology wasn’t clear before, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to quickly realize just how necessary the platform is. Overnight, in-person proctoring became nearly impossible. And while other proctoring services depended, at least partially, on outsourcing the job to people, Rosalyn’s AI focus suddenly put them in huge demand.

“The pandemic spotlighted our value proposition to investors and customers,” said Akbari. “Before that, they were thinking about Rosalyn in terms of cost saving. We heard a lot of, ‘We know we will do it in the next two years, but for now we have other priorities.’ When the pandemic hit, it changed a lot of things for us and our customers. Demand skyrocketed. All of a sudden, our competitors had issues because they were offering human solutions in call centers or proctoring centers, which were all shut down. All that demand came to us. We refocused our efforts on our core product, AI proctoring, and suddenly we were in the position of having as much demand as we could handle.”

Akbari was born in Afghanistan and originally lived in Nebraska when he moved to the States. In 2009, he made Columbus his home when he took a job with New Albany-based Mission Essential, a tech-oriented government contractor. A decade later, he found that central Ohio was the ideal home for Rosalyn as the company grew, taking advantage of the talent in Ohio that could help the company thrive.

“Columbus is very, very interesting from a technology perspective,” he said. “With companies like Olive and Root and other very successful startups, there’s a great pool of tech talent out there. There’s also a great talent pool for business hires — sales people, customer support and other business functions. You can hire people at reasonable salaries that are still affordable. We’re headquartered in Columbus but are a completely remote company, so we could hire from anywhere. But we’re going to be hiring for some of those business functions here in Columbus, and it’s a great place for that.”

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