2020 Virtual Conference

This conference was one of the biggest yet with over 400 registered delegates, from more than 150 organisations watching 9 hours of inspirational presentations, participating in 16 interactive online workshops, enjoying 3 incredible and informative keynotes, broadcast from 2 studios on 2 continents. The conference was held virtually for the first time due to COVID-19, and given the amazing feedback, it won’t be our last!
Give Us Feedback

Romana Moss


The best virtual conference that I have ever been to. The social and networking aspect was not forgotten and factored in. I really loved the Remo lounge. Great couple of days!

Hannah Maldonado

NJ Civil Service Commission

The conference has been a great opportunity to meet with others in the industry to learn, share ideas, and be challenged with new concepts

Gavin Busuttil-Reynaud


A great demonstration of how to share ideas and energise a community linked only by the internet and a webcam!

Day 1

David Price OBE opened the event by exploring the ‘learning moments’ from the recent problems with exam delivery and results, before thinking about how we maintain the momentum of change we’re currently experiencing. He asked whether standardised exams are still suitable in a non-standard world, suggesting we need to turn parents and employers into advocates for change to ensure that the opportunities the crisis has presented don’t go to waste.  

Andy McAnulla, President of BTL Surpass and Sonya Whitworth, BTL’s Managing Director then gave a roundup of the year and how the company has adapted to recent events and revealing that 30 million tests have now been delivered using Surpass.  

With the day focusing more on the UK and school leaving assessments, Graeme Clark at SQA, and Dave Mellor from AlphaPlus offered insights into the effect of the pandemic on the UK and European exam systems, asking ‘what can these times say to us going forward?’ 


  • Keynote: David Price – The Power of Us: How we Connect, Act and Innovate Together [5:20]
  • Company Update [40:14]
  • Partner Updates [1:03:43]
  • Year’s Release in Review [1:17:00]
  • Product Road Map Update [1:34:34]
  • Community Updates [1:58:09]
  • Community Stories with SQA – A View from Scotland Through the COVID Mist [2:17:24]
  • Community Stories with AlphaPlus [2:37:17]
  • Panel Discussion [2:56:43]

Day 2

Day 2 began with a keynote presentation from Harry Patrinos, World Bank Education. With more than 90% of the world’s learners impacted, Harry explored the true cost of school closures as a result of COVID-19. There were some truly alarming statistics about the predicted long-term impact from loss of learning and loss of future earnings as a result of the pandemic. 

Delegates were also invited to participate in a variety of user group breakout sessions, on topics such as the future of test creation, standard-setting, and the new award-winning Surpass help site. 

Community Stories were provided by Dr. Lori Severino and Dr. Mary Jean Tecce DeCarlo from the School of Education at Drexel University discussing their research and work to develop ACE (Adolescent Comprehension Evaluation). A much-needed solution for the assessment of reading comprehension ability for students in grades 6-8. We also heard from Amanda Dainis, CEO and Lead Psychometrician at Dainis and Company. Amanda discussed validity in exam development, exploring this in the context of both in-person and remote test development activities. Amanda provided several invaluable tips to test publishers considering how they approach test development in the new normal. 


  • Keynote: Harry Patrinos – The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures [6:34]
  • Surpass Team Updates [55:33]
  • Community Stories with Drexel University – ACE (Adolescent Comprehension Evaluation): A Solution Provided by LiteracyACE & Surpass [1:26:00]
  • Community Stories with Dainis and Company – In-person vs remote exam development: Supporting validity at every step [1:40:48]
  • Panel Discussion [1:59:28]
  • User Group Feedback [2:09:30]

Day 3

The day began with a selection of special interest groups covering a range of topics including accreditation of programs using online proctoring, the impact of COVID-19 on formative and summative assessment in schools, and AI in marking. These sessions were a great way to get delegates talking about some of the key topics for the industry and provided a good opportunity to connect virtually with like-minded colleagues – wherever they were in the world.  

Delegates then rejoined the main ‘public’ conference stream for our last keynote of the event from Liberty Munson of Microsoft Education. Liberty acknowledged how we’ve traditionally relied heavily of structured responses, but technologies such as machine learning, cognitive services and artificial intelligence are providing us with an opportunity to think differently about how we assess skills. She discussed how technology such as Automatic Item Generation allows us to rethink how we ask questions, changing item writing to focus on cognitive models and mapping. 

Our final community story was presented by Romana Moss from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)  who gave an insight into how the organisation’s plans to roll out computer-based testing were disrupted by COVID-19, but led to rapid implementation of remote invigilation. 

Keith Myers, CEO BTL Group Ltd., then closed the conference with a dynamic and inspirational panel discussion with 3 pivotal members of the assessment community, all sharing their advice on how we can all improve the assessment experience for everyone. 


  • Celebrating Success Updates [15:57]
  • Surpass Team Updates [27:24]
  • Keynote: Liberty Munson, Ph.D. – How Technology is Shaping the Future of Assessment: Imagine the Possibilities [38:05]
  • Special Interest Group Feedback [1:13:36]
  • Community Updates and an Innovations Update [1:30:23]
  • Community Stories with WSET – Chill, Pop, Pour, What a Lockdown! [1:51:06]
  • Panel Discussion [2:16:05]
  • Final Reflections [2:27:22]