The Testing Turning Point
May 14, 2018
On April 10, about 70 high school juniors in Oklahoma took the SAT under unconventional circumstances. They typed and clicked away on Chromebooks instead of the traditional bubbling in answer sheets with pencil, according to The New York Times. At Palmetto, news of this attempted shift in the testing format brought an onset of discussion among students and faculty.
Some students find the change progressive, especially in today’s technology-oriented society. Advantages such as saving money and resources also attract supporters of online testing.
“I prefer online [testing] because it’s more organized and easier to fill in information,” senior Matthew Spivak said. “Nowadays, kids are more into technology. We are moving forward. And in the process, [online testing] is helping save trees.”
On the other hand, there are some aspects of online testing that leave some skeptical of its benefits. For instance, poor WiFi connections can disrupt students testing and result in setbacks for testing schedules.
“Suppose the kids were testing and they have a limited amount of time and all of the sudden, computers go out,” Testing Chair and Advance Placement Coordinator Janice Fair said. “WiFi, which is notorious, will go out in the school. What happens then? Then, I’m running around and telling the kids ‘ok, stop!’ and we have to end the session. I see major issues with [WiFi connection], especially since our school is so old. Maybe by the time we get the new building, it will be better, but right now I would see it as a catastrophe.”
Several students agree with Fair, viewing online testing with reluctance. Instead, they prefer to stick to traditional SAT testing standards, feeling more in control flipping through pages than clicking on a screen.
“On paper, it’s just easier to maneuver through the passages and to go back into the test,” junior Rachel Stoler said.
While it is still too early to tell which direction the SAT testing format will take in the coming years, trials continue to take place, allowing administrators to perceive how large amounts of students react to the alternate conditions.