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Testing Centers at UNG serves needs of students and community

Testing Centers
Sherry Williams, coordinator of testing, passes out ACT exams to a group of high school students at the testing center at the Gainesville Campus.

A few minutes before 9 a.m. on a cold winter morning, a group of 17 nervous high school students milled about the lobby in the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Testing Center near the UNG Gainesville Campus.

The students arrived early to take the ACT; the center's lobby had the feel of a departure gate at a small airport, with a sign-in counter, rows of chairs and one wall lined floor-to-ceiling with lockers.

"Everything goes into the lockers," said Sherry Williams, Coordinator of Testing at the center. "No cell phones, no watches, nothing in your pockets. All you can take in is your ID and a calculator."

In case any of the test-takers have missed the point, signs serve as reminders. Right at 9 a.m., Williams checks the identification of each test taker against a list of names on a clipboard, then escorts each one into a large room with individual computer work stations with partitions on three sides to deter wandering eyes. A hushed silence is in the room — no talking is allowed once the test begins. Overhead an array of video cameras linked to computer screens in the next room monitors the group to ensure the integrity of the test is maintained.

"People are surprised by the steps we take to preserve the integrity of the exams," said Dr. Kara Kennebrew, director of testing at UNG. "Some exams require us to wand examinees as they come in to the testing area, to make sure they have nothing on their person."

That attention to service has resulted in accolades for UNG’s testing centers. College Board ranked UNG one of the top 100 universities nationally that successfully administer the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. The three campuses that administer CLEP exams (Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee) successfully administered more than 700 exams. In 2016, Complete College Georgia recognized UNG with its Champion Award, for overall team excellence and outstanding service.

The testing centers at UNG administer a plethora of standardized, state or nationally required exams such as the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE), needed for teacher certification, as well as administering tests for UNG Online and Proctored Exams for test takers in distance-learning programs, such as eCore. Each UNG campus has a testing center, although the testing centers for the Gainesville and Oconee campuses are located off site.

Kennebrew said with space at a premium on both campuses, UNG is utilizing space at the Colony Square Shopping Center in Watkinsville about a half mile away from the Oconee Campus, and in the College Square Shopping Center down the street from the Gainesville Campus.

"It allows us to accommodate an increased volume of test takers while at the same time, helping them to accomplish their educational goals," Kennebrew said. "The space configured for the testing centers is more conducive to those taking exams — we are able to provide more test sessions and grow our testing program.”

All of the centers offer a controlled testing environment for either computer- or paper-based exams. Spaces can accommodate private proctor rooms for one or two test-takers or group testing up to 30 people. During each exam, test- takers are continuously monitored to ensure that examinees do not receive an unfair advantage while testing.

"I have a very dedicated and passionate staff, they make my job so much easier," Kennebrew said. "The staff does an outstanding job and they strive to do their best to serve those who come through our doors."

Kennebrew served as testing coordinator at Georgia State University for six years and was hired as UNG's testing director last year. She and her staff continuously promote and educate the local communities on what each center has to offer, by attending open house and orientation events.

"We did an outstanding job with hosting our CLEP-a-Thon back in August," Kennebrew said. "We had people that visited our facilities who were unaware of the services that we provide.”

More information about UNG's testing centers, including locations, the testing schedules and type of tests administered at each campus, is available online.



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