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Cisco Networking Academy Assessment News

Last updated September 21, 2009

This document provides a summary of the latest news, information, and updates on Cisco Networking Academy®

Coming Soon: Cisco Packet Tracer Practice Skills Based Assessment

Cisco® Packet Tracer Practice Skills Based Assessments (PT Practice SBAs) for CCNA courses are currently in the
final stages of user testing at several academies around the world. Our new Packet Tracer formative assessment
environment provides immediate, detailed feedback to help students and instructors identify areas that need

The PT Practice SBAs can help students test their competency and knowledge of networking concepts and skills in
the familiar Packet Tracer simulation learning environment. Practice assessments are immediately scored and
provide feedback to help students increase their confidence when preparing for the final hands-on skills exams.

The English versions of the PT Practice SBAs for CCNA Discovery and CCNA Exploration courses will be generally
available in the October-November 2009 timeframe. We will send a launch announcement closer to the release

Practice Final Exams Now Available

New practice final exams that help students test their skills and knowledge in preparation for their final exams are
now available. Psychometrics and student performance data from field testing were used to align the practice finals
with final exams in terms of content, design, and functionality. Practice final exams for the following courses are
available for immediate use:

● All CCNA Discovery and CCNA Exploration courses (some translations still in progress)
● IT Essentials: PC Hardware and Software, Chapters 1–10 (English versions)
To better prepare students, the practice final exams are designed to be equally or slightly more challenging when
compared to the real final exams. Since the content from both exams is closely aligned, the practice final exams
and the final exams will be updated on the same schedule.

Multiple Forms of Final Exams Now Available

As part of an ongoing effort to help ensure the integrity of our assessments, multiple forms of final exams are now
available for the following courses:

● All CCNA Discovery and CCNA Exploration courses (some translations still in progress)
● IT Essentials: PC Hardware and Software, Chapters 1–10 (English versions)
When an instructor activates a final exam using the default settings, one of three forms will be randomly selected
and delivered to each student. The increased number of final exam forms and addition of new field-tested tasks on
a regular basis will help enhance exam security to provide a more valid measure of student knowledge. An
instructor may specify which forms their students receive by using the Advanced Activation feature.

The final exam forms have similar characteristics in terms of the total number of tasks per form, levels of difficulty,
types of tasks, objectives, and content. Figure 1 shows the end result of the balancing process used for the final
exam forms released in June 2009 for a CCNA Discovery course. The average student correctly answered

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approximately 35 out of 50 tasks on the June 2009 release of the final exam forms A, B, and C and 30 out of 50
tasks on the practice final exam. The results match the intended design for all exams. Figure 2 shows the number
of tasks per form for each design claim for the course. The exam design documents and claims can be accessed
from the Class Home page and from the Tools page for each course.

Figure 1 – Final and Practice Final Test Characteristic Curves Figure 2 – Final and Practice Final Content Coverage

New Form Activation Extension

In early April, Academy Connection was updated to let instructors decide if they want to reactivate a new exam form
when an activated form is refreshed. Previously, when an exam form was updated to correct errors or add new
items, all activations associated with the old form were disabled. Students could not access the form and the
instructor had to create a new activation.

Based on feedback from the instructor community, activations associated with an old form will no longer be
automatically disabled. This enhancement gives instructors control over the decision instead of the system.

If an assessment form you activated for your students has been retired and a newer assessment form is available,
you will be notified by email if your profile is set to allow email communications from us. You will then have the
option to deactivate the old form and make the new form available for your students.

Note: We recommend that you activate the newest forms available. The Global Support Desk will not
support retired assessment forms.

Here is an example of the email you would receive if an assessment form you activated for your students has been

Dear instructor,

An assessment form that you have activated for your students has been updated by a refresh. If you want
your students to receive the most up-to-date and accurate exam content, please deactivate your current
form and activate the available form.

Here is the information about your activation:

Refresh Date: March 20, 2009

Class Name: CDS 1 Class to Test Form Retirement
Course Name: Curriculum Development and Staging 1 1.0

© 2009 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 2 of 4
Exam Name: CCNA 801 Certification Practice Exam #2
Current Activation Form Name: English FormD 801 Prac Cert Exam #2
Class Time Zone: (GMT-07:00) Arizona
Logon Period Start: 03/20/2009 04:03 PM
Logon Period End: 03/20/2009 11:03 PM
Date Format: MM/DD/YYYY

If you would like to see the changes between the forms, please visit the Curriculum and Assessment
Quality Support page through the Help link to review the Assessment Errata for your course.

Thank you for your assistance.

Academy Connection Team

Field Testing
Field testing is a process that delivers non-scored test items on a scored exam to determine item quality and
difficulty before the item is used as a graded item on an exam. Field testing is a standard practice in large-scale
testing environments.

Field testing of items has been in effect during 2009 for the English versions of CCNA Discovery and CCNA
Exploration and the IT Essentials: PC Hardware and Software, Chapters 1–10 final exams, and will continue as a
part of our ongoing assessment refresh updates. Two test items have been added to every final exam to gather
data. These items look like any other exam item, but they are not graded and do not show up in the Gradebook, the
Exam Viewer, or the Item Information pages.

There are two ways to determine if an exam includes field test items:

● Check to see if the form name ends with “FT” on the Select Form tab.
● Read the Assessment Intro text that students see before taking the exam.

Assessment Updates and Support

Exam Design Documentation

To find exam design documentation, select View Official Course Material from the Instructor Class homepage or
view the Tools page for each course.

Quarterly Assessment Updates

We perform quarterly assessment updates as part of our continuous quality processes to correct reported errors
and refresh assessments as quickly as possible. Reported bugs and errors, along with the corrective action and
targeted correction date, are listed in the Assessment Errata located on the Instructor Class homepage for each
course. You can check the Assessment Errata to learn when assessments are scheduled to be updated or retired.
The listings are updated weekly.

Assessment Support
Please submit assessment bugs and errors through the Curriculum and Assessment Quality Support site. To
access this site, log into Academy Connection and click Help at the top of the page, and then select Curriculum
and Assessment Quality Support. Select the Contact Assessment Team tab, provide as much detail as
possible, and then click Submit.

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© 2009 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. Cisco, the Cisco logo, Cisco Systems, CCNA, and Networking Academy are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cisco
Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective
owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. (0904R)

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