Testing: easily one of the most fear-inducing words at Paly, followed closely by “GPA” and “College Apps.” Amid the everyday stresses of coursework, social events and extracurriculars, tests are another hurdle faced by students.
Teachers, however, employ a variety of tests and testing policies, and while some systems are calibrated for maximum efficiency, others could use improvements. For example, some teachers do not have limits for how long students can wait to make up a test, delaying an entire class or even multiple classes from getting their test back because of one person. Some teachers have incredibly strict test rescheduling policies, while others allow students to reschedule for virtually any reason. Different policies can vary drastically from department to department and teacher to teacher, creating a vastly different testing experience for students depending on their teachers. The Campanile thinks the testing process should be standardized and that this particular source of stress could be ameliorated through these following suggestions.
All teachers should allow students to take tests during any period in which the test is administered. The Advanced Placement (AP) Biology classes already utilize this strategy, and it has proved to be beneficial for students, especially ones with demanding schedules, multiple tests and a myriad of other commitments daily.
Often, students want to use an extra period or two to review material they are not fully comfortable with. In other cases, students have multiple tests stacked up on the same day, which can increase stress on those days. In this way, students can push their tests back, but may also push their tests forward by a day.
Allowing students to push back or move forward their testing periods would provide them more flexibility, which will put them more at ease with the content on the test, and give them the chance to plan their exams so that they are less stressed upon reviewing the night before.
Students in different sections of the same course should be given different versions of the test. The first period to take a test generally goes in blind, with no sense of how hard the material will be or which areas to focus on during review.
However, the following classes to take the exam usually have a better idea of what to expect on tests, and tend to score higher on average. This can give students who take the test later an advantage over the students who take it first. The Campanile thinks this problem can be diminished if teachers give students distinct versions of the test between periods or days.
Although many teachers do provide separate versions of test, often they involve nothing more than scrambling the order of the test problems. This prevents students from cheating during the test, but does not eliminate people sharing test content among different periods.
Different versions of tests would include different problems but still test similar content to ensure fairness among exam periods. We understand it takes a lot of effort for teachers to construct separate versions of a test for each period they teach. However, if teachers could just provide two or three versions of the test, it would make testing more equitable between classes.
The Campanile appreciates everything our teachers do for us, as well as how hard they work to provide us with an education. However, we cannot deny cheating and test stacking are a part of the testing culture at Paly that has not been extinguished.
By utilizing these strategies, we would help create a more equitable environment for ourselves and future Paly students.