Appendix D: Secure Browser for Testing


While the secure browser version 12.5 is an integral component of test security, test administrators and test examiners perform an equally important role in preserving test integrity. In addition to the guidelines put forth by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the CDE, and individual LEAs or schools, test administrators and test examiners should be aware of these guidelines and employ the necessary precautions while administering online tests:

Close External User Applications.

Prior to administering the online assessments, test administrators, test examiners, or other assigned staff should check all devices that will be used and close all applications except those identified as necessary by the school technology coordinator. After closing these applications, the test administrator or test examiner should open the secure browser on each device.

The secure browser and Student Interface automatically detect certain applications that are prohibited from running on a device while the secure browser is open. The secure browser will not allow a student to log on if the secure browser detects that a forbidden application is running on the device. A message will also display that lists the forbidden application(s) that needs to be closed.

Avoid Testing on Devices with Dual Monitors.

Systems that use a dual-monitor setup typically display an application on one monitor screen while another application is accessible on the other screen. This typical dual-monitor setup is not allowed under normal circumstances for the CAASPP.

However, one-on-one testing is required for the CAAs. These assessments may call for the test examiner to be close to the student for ease of use and access and to promote the validity of the assessment. In these cases, a dual-monitor configuration may be necessary. Another possible situation for dual monitor use is when a test administrator or test examiner is administering a test via read-aloud and wants to have a duplicate screen to view exactly what the student is viewing for ease of reading aloud.

In these rare cases where a dual monitor setup is allowed, Smarter Balanced requires that the monitors be set up to “mirror” each other. School technology coordinators can assist test administrators and test examiners in setting up the two monitors to ensure they mirror each other rather than operate as independent monitors.

In these cases, all security procedures must be followed, and the test must be administered in a secure environment, to prevent others from hearing the questions or viewing the screens for a student, test administrator, or test examiner. Refer to the Suggested Guidelines for Physically Distancing Test Administration for suggested layouts.

Disable Screen Savers and Timeout Features.

On all testing devices, be sure to disable any features that display a screen saver or log users off after a period of inactivity. If such features activate while a student is testing, the secure browser logs the student off the test. The student must log on to the secure browser to resume testing.

Secure Browser Error Messages

Possible error messages displayed by the open-source secure browser are shown in table 1.

Table 1. Secure Browser Error Messages

Message Description
Secure Browser Not Detected The system automatically detects whether a device is using the secure browser to access the online testing system. The system will not permit access to a test other than through the secure browser; under no condition may a student access a test using a nonsecure browser.
Unable to Establish a Connection with the Test Delivery System If a device fails to establish a connection with the TDS, a message will be displayed. This is most likely to occur if there is a network-related problem. The causes may include an unplugged network cable or a firewall not allowing access to the site.

Force-Quit Commands for Secure Browsers

In the rare event that the secure browser or test becomes unresponsive and the student cannot pause the test or close the secure browser, users have the ability to “force quit” the secure browser.

To force the secure browser to close, use the following keyboard commands. (Reminder: This will log the student off the test the student is taking. When the secure browser is opened again, the student will have to log back on to resume testing.)


Press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Shift] + [F10].

Mac OS X

Press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Shift] + [F10]. The Control key may appear as [Control], [Ctrl], or [^].


Press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Shift] + [Esc].