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Computer based testing eliminates classroom time

Why do we waste time to test on technology?

Emma Behrmann, Copy Editor

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A cafeteria full of students, but it isn’t lunch time. Testing season requires teachers to leave their classrooms to proctor standardized tests, leaving their students to sit in the cafeteria or teaching auditorium.

Standardized testing, yet despised, is here to stay. However, the mode of testing- computers- creates a complex and lengthy schedule spanning several weeks. This schedule is a result of the limited amount of computers available.

Since there is not a computer for every student at this school, all of those that need to test cannot test at once. However, paper based testing would allow all students to test at the same time within a day or two. There may not be enough computers for every test-taker, but there are enough classrooms and time within a school day to complete the two session test.

In the state of Florida, students in grades 3–10 take the English Language Arts (ELA), Florida Standard Assessment (FSA); students in grades 3–8 take the Mathematics FSA (http://www.fldoe.org/accountability/assessments/). Students enrolled in Algebra I must take and pass the FSA end of course assessment (EOC), Geometry students must also take, but are not required to pass, the FSA EOC.

Half of high school students are required to complete one if not two standardized tests. The freshmen and sophomore classes took the writing portion of the ELA FSA in March, and the reading portion in mid April.

Testing season overlaps a crucial part of the school year. As students and teachers near the end of school, material is being crammed in and reviewed in preparation for AP exams, finals, and along with simply finishing the class.

Due to computer based testing, students are out of classes for three periods of the day, two days in a row for one full assessment. With two to three standardized tests in the year, we miss about six days, 18 periods.  Besides the students, our teachers are required to proctor at least four days of the testing slots. If a teacher is proctoring, the students are dispersed to the cafeteria or teaching auditorium.

With paper testing, our school could choose one day per assessment and have the sophomores and freshmen required to take the test sent to their homeroom where they could spend the day taking the test. This would result in reducing the amount of class missed in half. Students would spend less time sitting in the cafeteria, and more time learning.

In addition to missing class, computer based testing is not the same as paper. Being able to underline and make notes on a passage on paper, and being able to do the math problem right next to the graph accompanied with it is so much easier than having to glance at the screen, glance down to write, and look back up.

Studies have been conducted that show, “when comparing learning from a screen versus printed text, the students recalling information acquired from print were able to access the information much faster and were deemed to have ‘learned’ the material. By comparison, the students who read from screens had to mentally search for information in response to questions and were judged to be ‘remembering’ the material,” (https://www.radford.act.edu.au/storage/reading-on-screens-v-paper.pdf).

If it is possible that we do not truly learn and completely remember what we read on a screen, why are computers used to test reading comprehension?

Our world is infiltrated with technology. Consequently, our state mandated testing occurs on computers. We cannot change the relevance of technology, but we could improve our testing schedules by straying away from the use of the computer.

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The School Newspaper of Palm Harbor University High School
Computer based testing eliminates classroom time