An open source software platform consisting of different modules to support development, regulation and deployment of computer-based tests.

One of the main objectives of the TBA-project is to establish a powerful software platform designed to support all necessary steps for computer-based assessment and to meet national as well as international standards regarding competence diagnostics. Accordingly the open source platform TAO, developed in Luxembourg, will be systematically improved and refined. In the medium term it is the goal to establish it as the international standard.

What is TAO?

TAO (“Testing Assisté par Ordinateur” = computer-based assessment) is the French acronym for TBA. The development of TAO started in 2002 as a cooperation between the Luxembourgish Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor (CRP) and the University of Luxembourg. The software system TAO is a generic open source platform, providing comprehensive functionalities for the collaborative and distributive creation, management and delivery of computer-based tests. The platform is expandable and open to be able to react to future developments and demands in the assessment field. In cooperation with the partners from Luxembourg TAO is to be further developed and expanded.

How is TAO constructed?

TAO consists of sequences of interrelated modules. All together there are six different modules, in which the various steps of the assessment can be carried out:

    • The user module (‘subjects’, new: ‘test taker’), in which the user information of all participants interacting with TAO are administered (e.g. test developers, testees)
    • The group module (‘groups’), in which subjects are subsumed, who shall take the same test
    • The item module (‘items’), in which the different item and items types are generated and administered
    • The test module (‘tests’), that subsumes items to tests regardless of their design
    • The module for test delivery and test administration (‘delivery’)
    • das Modul für die Ergebnisdarstellung und -bearbeitung (‚results‘)

Here you can see a visualization of the platform construction with the different modules:


The splitting into modules enables the TAO user to manage and share resources as well as using the collaborative test development. Moreover, TAO is multilingual, i.e., the user interface is available in different languages. Furthermore, the platform supports multilingual tests and includes non-Latin alphabets.

How does the test construction work with TAO?

A test development could have the following design: The administrator installs the TAO-Software and assigns passwords to the test developers according to their field of work. With this, amongst others, the data of testees can be uploaded and login information assigned to the testees as well as the item development can be administered. So far, the item developer can choose between different item types and create, for instance, a multiple-choice task or other QTI-tasks (QTI meaning question and test interoperability, i.e., a XML-form for task description). After creating the items, they will be combined to a test and assigned to the test takers according to their group membership. After generating the tests, the test takers can log in online using their login information (independent of the type of web browser). After the test implementation, the results will be sent to the ‘Test Delivery Server’ and subsequently to the connected ‘Results Module’.

Has TAO already been used?

TAO was and is used in different test situations and studies, for example:

    • PISA 2009, 20 countries
    • PIAAC 2010, 20 and more countries
    • Universität Szeged, Hungary, 2010
    • Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, 2011
    • PISA 2012, 60 and more countries
    • PIAAC round 2, 2012, 10 additional countries
    • PISA 2015, 70 and more countries

What is the further development of TAO ?

The reengineering of TAO considers the feedback of previous users so far. Thus it is important to guarantee flexibility in regard to future enhancements and developments.


Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (expired), own resources, project resources

Cooperation: Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor (CRP), University of Luxembourg

Duration: since 2007

Status: running

Projekt management: CRP

Links: Generelle Informationen über TAO (auf Englisch), Download TAO, TAO Tutorien, TAO Dokumentation