Out with the old, in with the new

As time goes on, the world around us continues to change. The evolution of technology continues to amaze people, and as it creates new opportunities, it changes the world as we know it. We have gone from flip phones to iPhones in a little more than a decade. However, technology has now changed the way students take tests.
Online testing has recently taken the place of scantrons and will continue to in the future. Not only will it be cheaper in the long run, but it will also be more efficient. One of the challenges it brings, however, is having enough computers for all students to test.
“I think it’s good we’re utilizing technology to get quicker feedback and data,” Administrative Intern Ken Voakes said. “However, it’s going to be challenging getting students to take a test in a five-week time frame.”
Online testing has been adopted into the school system due to the advancement of technology. Almost everything can be found on the internet, from school assignments to checking what students missed when they were absent. Now, quizzes and tests are also available. Utica High School has administered several pilot tests to students to help familiarize them with taking tests online. Next year, juniors’ Smarter Balance test will be online and the state is still contemplating whether or not to make other tests like this, as well.
Some classes that have used online testing include web page, nursing, economics and medical dental. Some students said they prefer scantrons, while others preferred taking tests online.
People who liked tests online liked them because it showed them the right and wrong answers after they had completed the test. They also liked it because you can do the test or quiz at home; it’s similar to scantrons and it saves paper.
A lot of students liked using scantrons over online testing, however. Some students thought that tests online had questions that were similar and repeated themselves. Another student didn’t like their online math test because they weren’t able to do their work on the same paper. Most students believed that they did better on scantrons.
“It’s easier to see where you are and go back on questions,” senior Ashley Bankstahl said. “Checking your final answers is a big part and is more difficult online.”
Some problems students thought would arise from this type of testing was computers crashing and that it might hurt some people’s eyes because of having to look at the screen for an extended period of time. Other challenges that might occur were not everyone being able to have access to a computer, and some students thought it might create more failing grades.
However, most teachers like the way online testing works for their students. They thought students would like it and would eventually evolve with the system. Their first experience for most of them was with the pilot tests. After using it, they grew to like it.
“The feedback is automatic, which is good,” teacher Robert Morin said, “and I think it’s a more condensed process.”
Morin thought it was organized and eliminated a lot of steps. Like other teachers, he liked that it was easier to use and determined data quickly.
Some teachers believed that there would only be a few problems. While some thought the tests might make it easier for students to cheat, others were concerned about the very real possibilty of websites that are out of service or not working properly; back up plans would be needed.
Some of the other problems with online tests come with how it affects its standardization. Many of the tests students take today are standardized, meaning that the test is similar and has the same standards for every students.
The problem with taking standardized tests online, like the MEAP, has to do with the fact the test may not be the same for everyone. The computer can recognize a student has answered a question wrong, making the next question slightly easier than it would have if it was right.
This process leads to a lack of the standardization that tests have. That has some teachers and students worried about the fairness and validity of online testing.
“I have concerns about the way teaching is heading.” government teacher Steven Domke said. “We had a lot more creativity in the past. Now it’s all about standardized testing.”
As technology continues to evolve and improve life, it brings change for the better or worse. While online testing may only be a small change, it affects the way students test. Testing is important to students, being that testing is a large part of what they have to do in high school.
While a minor change like taking a test online may seem small, it could have a large impact on how students prepare and view tests.