Bounded by the $29 million Performing Arts Center, the $6 million Media Arts Center and the $40 million gym sits a 14’ by 60’ portable referred to rather boldly as the Testing Center. This trailer serves Palo Alto High School students who are unable to take exams on the days specified by their instructors. Whether it be due to absence, illness or anything in between, many Vikings have found themselves within its rickety walls.
For those who haven’t sown their intellectual seeds in the Testing Center, The Campanile recommends abstaining from doing so in the interest of both mental and physical health. The facility is small and often packed to the gills with students. Noises pour in through the door, footsteps make the floor vibrate, and a fireball of body heat keeps things toasty. Even with two staff members at its mast, the Center is clearly a sinking ship.
It is the duty of our administration to provide students with a comfortable and accessible environment in which to take tests. The limited hours of our current Testing Center, coupled with its close quarters, are an issue that needs to be promptly addressed. Student learning is impeded by low exam scores, and low exam scores are facilitated by substandard test-taking conditions. At a school like Paly, with an abundance of capital, resources and space, finding a new classroom in which to house the testing center shouldn’t be a challenge.
The Campanile recommends the implementation of either a new space, available from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every school day, or a rotating schedule for available classrooms with the same proposed hours, staffed by the same. Problems most frequently arise due to lack of seats in the Testing Center — during any given Flex period, a line of students snaking out the door can be seen waiting anxiously for others to finish their exams and allow other test takers inside.
Such conditions can lead to some students waiting up to an hour or longer to make up their exams or abandoning their posts and negotiating with teachers to delay their tests even further. With the creation of an expanded Testing Center space or classroom rotation system, students would be able to make up tests at the earliest possible convenience, and teachers could grade and return exams sooner.
At the core of most Paly classes lies a necessity to succeed on exams, made more difficult by subpar test-retaking conditions. If students must reschedule their exams, they should not be penalized with an environment that makes it difficult to perform well. The portable is functional but hardly practical. Our hope is to raise the bar at a benefit to students.