New testing center offers Pearson VUE tests to public, as well as services to AU students
When Kristy Tipton started working at Ashland University in June, part of her job was to get a new
testing center off the ground.
Tipton, whose job also includes online program support, said she couldn’t have done it without the help
of many people.
“This testing center can be used university-wide and the Pearson VUE component is already being used
by the community,” Tipton said in mid-November at the center, which is in the basement of the
university’s building at 930 Claremont Ave.
According to its website, Pearson VUE is the industry’s largest network of professional test centers with
computer-based testing for more than 450 professional organizations’ certifications.
Recently, the testing center also became authorized to give Certiport exams for more professional
In addition to allowing the public to earn professional certifications, the center will benefit AU as a site
for makeup exams, standardized tests and college placement testing.
The biggest part of it, though, is the Pearson VUE aspect of it.
Helping prepare Tipton for that was Terry Echols, an adjunct professor at AU who runs a Pearson VUE
testing center for Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) at the Maple Heights branch. He allowed
Tipton to observe his site one day.
“Employment seekers are continually adapting to an ever-changing industry and thus having a testing
center in Ashland County will further support economic recovery and self-sufficiency,” Echols said.
Tipton said Echols was especially helpful in bracing her for the long list of Pearson VUE technical
requirements, which include having cameras in the testing room, computer stations at least four feet
apart and a secure testing site so lockers are needed for things like cell phones, watches, etc.
The university’s IT department was very helpful in getting the site ready, which took about a month to
set up and another month to receive Pearson VUE authorization, Tipton said.
Through Pearson VUE certification, the testing center at AU offers thousands of certification exams,
from accounting to insurance to telephone systems and everything in between, particularly teacher
licensures. Tipton said she can give almost 500 different teacher licensure exams and, so far, most of the
center’s testing has been those types of tests.
The testing center is under eAshland, formerly known as the College of Online and Adult Studies, but
now offers all kinds of non-traditional learning for all ages.
“The goal of this will be a revenue-generating unit for the university,” said Shawn Orr, dean for
eAshland. “It’s never going to be huge, but we do hope someday it will be able to cover itself. We get a
small fee for each Pearson VUE test we give.”
Orr, who helped come up with the proposal for the testing center, has been helping fund it through her
dean’s budget and anywhere else she can find extra money since it doesn’t have a budget yet.
“We’ve been able to get a lot of internal donations – old equipment and old lockers not being used,” Orr
said. “The space was empty and we’re reusing furniture and computers that were in storage.”
To help with startup costs, Tipton applied for an Ashland County Community Foundation grant with the
help of Sarah Swaisgood in the university’s Grants and Foundation Relations office.
Tipton taught Swaisgood’s son and daughter at Ashland Middle School, where Tipton was a science
teacher for several years before making her career change to higher education, which includes working
toward a doctorate degree in leadership studies from AU that she plans to finish in spring 2024.
Swaisgood said the testing center will thrive under Tipton’s direction because she brings many years of
experience as an educator, is organized and is a natural leader.
“It will be a great asset to our faculty and students, serving as a dedicated space to administer
standardized tests, as well as a space for students to take makeup exams, eliminating the need to
coordinate a time and location that works for both professor and student,” Swaisgood said. “The
university Grants and Foundation Relations office is always happy to partner with our faculty and staff to
support the needs of our students.”
James Cutright, executive director of the ACCF, said his organization is always happy to help support
Ashland University’s faculty and staff members like Tipton and its students, too, as well as the
community – as this grant will do.
Besides marketing materials, the grant of a little less than $1,000 helped purchase things like erasable
notebooks and dry erasers, noise-cancelling headphones and a white noise machine to block out the
sounds from the floor above that houses the university’s Student Accessibility Center, Tipton said.
The Student Accessibility Center has a testing site for students with disabilities. Before COVID, the
university had another testing site for about 25 years in the College of Education for teacher licensure
“It is very good news that the new center is now open,” said Mitchell Slater, the COE coordinator of
Blackboard, data analytics and Ohio Assessments for Educators test preparation at AU. “Many students
have expressed relief that they may again take OAE tests here on campus.”
Because that earlier test site was Pearson VUE certified, Tipton said Slater has been very helpful with the
new one, which is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and stays
open one of those days until 7 p.m. once a month.
To find specific hours it’s open to the public, visit pearsonvue.com, which is also the best place to
schedule tests, or check out the center’s website for more information at www.ashland.edu/testing-
Scheduling in-person tests on days it’s open to the public also can be done as long as computer stations
are available, said Tipton, who added that the center is available to AU staff and faculty anytime by
appointment. Tipton can be reached by phone, too, at 419-207-4998.