CDCR Employment

Bold move: OPOS pilots online Correctional Officer exam

By Steve Stone, Office of Peace Officer Selection

During the months of April and May, an online-proctored exam pilot was conducted for the correctional officer exam by the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS).

Cooperative Personnel Services-HR facilitated the pilot with ProctorU, an online exam company that provides proctored exams for major universities nationwide. The pilot’s purpose was to determine if exam attendance rates could be improved in areas remote to the testing centers by allowing candidates to complete the exam from their home. 

Closeup of correctional officer uniform showing shoulder and badge. Type says Now Hiring, joincdcr.com

The exam featured a live proctor who monitored the exam via the users webcam. The proctor also conducted a security test on the users laptop, and had the candidates rotate their webcam 360 degrees to ensure they were alone while taking the exam. The proctor program uses facial recognition software to compare a picture of the exam candidate and their driver’s license photo to validate identification, and an artificial intelligence algorithm to monitor and record suspicious behavior. 

Lead OPOS analyst for the pilot, Joseph Tabiolo, reported that “approximately one candidate out of five offered elected to take the exam online.”  For those taking the exam online, there was a 19% increase in exam attendance for Imperial County, and a 53% increase for selected areas of Los Angeles County. Surveys conducted after the exam showed a high level of satisfaction with the process and the support from the online proctor. 

CPS-HR Project Coordinator, Dave Rechs,  noted that several other state departments had inquired about the pilot and were anxious to see what CDCR’s results and lessons learned were.  CPS-HR and OPOS are working on a presentation to share the pilot’s lessons learned with interested external parties. 

When asked what he thought the future of online proctored exams would be, Dave stated “I believe the future is bright, departments offering these types of exams as an alternative to the traditional written exams offer candidates a much better experience. The Office of Peace Officer Selection took the bold step of being the first out of the gate with online proctored exams and we both learned a great deal from this successful partnership.”

OPOS Chief Rob Calderon said: “We’re always looking at ways to use innovative ideas to improve the selection process whether that be by using technology to improve the candidate experience or to accelerate the process itself.  The pilot was not only innovative and it boosted our exam numbers at a time when applications have been declining.”