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Tests Being Put to the Test

While there are teachers who opt to hold tests during these demanding times, some prefer to lay off of the standard, objective tests. One of these teachers is Ms. Mary Bowers, who, as an literature teacher, has elected to remove the objective aspects of a quiz or an exam. Ms. Bowers acknowledges a key struggle […]

While there are teachers who opt to hold tests during these demanding times, some prefer to lay off of the standard, objective tests. One of these teachers is Ms. Mary Bowers, who, as an literature teacher, has elected to remove the objective aspects of a quiz or an exam. Ms. Bowers acknowledges a key struggle is make sure students don’t cheat.

“I cannot figure out a way to maintain the integrity of the test,” she says. “There is no way I can monitor my students.”.

While the lack of monitoring is obvious, there are ways exams can be administered.

“Until the situation changes, tests and assessments are going to have to written and be tailored in an individual way,” Ms. Bowers.

It seems that the core aspect of analysis in a literature class remains unchanged, but also it seems that it will be slightly harder to come across test category points. Students should not expect too much change in terms of a literature exam.

The core concept of reading and providing an opinionated take on the topic remains. However, a subject that offers very little room for subjective thinking may be facing greater challenges in terms of testing. 

Science has always been a class focused around facts. Biology, chemistry and physics vary on their level of application needed to be successful in the course.

Science in general, focuses heavily on learning concepts and being able to apply them to a question or situation.

Chemistry for example is a bit of a wild child. For instance, you may be asked to simply list the four laws of thermodynamics, then immediately be asked to solve a complex molar mass conversion equation.

Mr. Kevin Scully, a biology and biotechnology teacher, has chosen to allow students to utilize their note books while taking assessments.

Mr. Scully does this in the hopes that “students benefit from the practice of actively summarizing and organizing the content segments into notebooks.”

Mr. Scully also understands that, as students during a crisis, large tests and exams can be stressful.

“I can imagine chunking the material into more frequent quizzes, each with less breath of content, can help to decrease anxiety for students and reassure them that their final grade is less tied to any one given performance,” he says.

Science as a subject appears to be facing some of the greatest challenges of all the subjects, as it handles in both application and knowledge of the topic in question.

In the realm of testing, students should focus heavily on preparation, more specifically, notes.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” is a saying that heavily applies to science classes now more than ever.

Math is a subject that so straight forward, you just need to do it. Since math is a subject that has probably been impacted in the testing area least, it remains as the course where practice makes perfect.

“It’s no different than before, except now students are completely responsible for their learning,” mathematics teacher Mr. Casey Reeve ‘04. “You don’t have teachers sitting over your shoulder making sure you are getting work done or paying attention. Students have to want to learn to be successful.”

This appears to be the only major change to math, but is also a change that has happened to every subject.

Students in math should expect tests to be in the same format as usual, with some teachers electing to allow notes to be used on tests. This should take some stress off students, as remembering long formulas is usually the bane of the class.

From every angle, the pandemic can be seen as a massive blow to education in California, and the amount of drawbacks for testing may seem overwhelming. Mr. Reeve points out a substantial issue that may be preventing students from maximizing their education.

“Students may not be taking the time to learn to material and just rely on materials that won’t always be there,” he says.

Actually learning the topic discussed or that is tested on should be a priority for students, as some classes, such as Algebra II recirculate concepts from previous courses.

As students continue to grind though digital learning, teachers are busy at work finding and testing ways to… well, test.

While the setting for tests may be different now, one thing remains unchanged. You still need to know what those words or numbers on your screen actually mean.

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