Teachers should utilize online tests more


Online testing benefits both students and teachers despite potential cheating risks.

Computerized testing is an emerging test technology that is being underutilized at Paly. Digitized testing allows students to take stressful tests in a less stressful environment, which could ultimately lead to improved test scores. Computerized testing can ease tension a student may feel during tests and quizzes. Taking tests on a computer can ease stress in students’ lives and boost test scores.

Taking tests on a computer can ease stress in students’ lives and boost test scores.

Taking a test online is quicker than a paper test because typing is faster than writing. A keyboard produces faster results than a pencil and piece of paper do. Students who are victims of the clock are now able to finish their tests in a more timely fashion, since less time is being send actually writing out the answers. Keyboards integrate a faster system of writing words, decreasing a student’s test taking time.

“If you know how to type without looking down at the keyboard, typing is much faster than writing and is more efficient,” junior Ethan Bundy said

Once a student has answered all questions in a shorter time, students are able to think more about their answers and make additional changes to them more easily.

“Online tests are easier to edit and easier to go back and change your answers” history teacher Steve Gallagher said.

Spare time left as a result of these new means of testing allows students the opportunity to review answers, and add in minor details. This also allows students the opportunity to catch potential mistakes made during the test.

In a scientific study in 2000 by Patricia Wallace and Roy Clariana, those more familiar with computers performed higher on tests than those with less computer experience. More digital versions of tests should be available as an option for those who perform better on digitized testing.

Students at Paly are computer friendly, that they are in the center of the Silicon Valley.

“[Online tests] are more culturally relevant because so much of what we do is on computers,” English teacher Mimi Park said.

Another benefit to online testing is its eco friendly value. For required subject courses where every individual in respective grades must take the course, online tests would prevent teachers from having to waste hundreds of sheets of paper printing hard copies of tests. The school would also spend less money with this reduction of resource usage.

Take home tests are frequently taken online. This can be comforting for students because they can take the test wherever they feel most comfortable, whether that be at home, the library, or a special spot on campus.

This method of online testing is rarely used, because it closely resembles a homework assignment. One can have notes with them during the take home test, the only difference being that the test goes under the testing category and is expected to have more detail than a regular homework assignment.

There is a fear that computerized testing enables cheating to be easier. If a test was on Schoology and a student was unaware of one of the concepts, the student could open a new tab and find an answer via Google behind the teachers back. Detecting cheating would be difficult when administering online tests, and would require teachers to constantly watch computer screens.

Currently, Schoology is developing an online tool that helps prevent cheating during online tests. The application being developed will prevent the device on which the test is being taken on from leaving the test and opening another tab. Students would not be able to access other applications during the test taken on Schoology, a similar method seen during online Common Core testing last year.

Teachers at Paly take certain steps to combat cheating to aid in the learning process for all students. Teachers occasionally offer note cards students can have with them during tests.

“Cheating has been an issue based on pressure. I will give note cards, [‘cheat sheets’], for students, therefore they don’t feel the need to cheat because they already come in with a cheat sheet. That also helps students for studying and gives them a tool to be honest,” Gallagher said.

Tighter cheating consequences that have been put into policy by the Paly administration also contribute to refrainment from cheating. These policies essentially “scare” students from cheating because of the severity and longevity of the consequences.

In U.S. History, Humanities, and other Paly classes, the online portion of a test is simply used as a template. A sheet of paper is provided to students, with the test questions on it. Students type their answers to the questions on the online template.

A digitized test has the ability to speed up the grading process for teachers. On multiple choice tests, grading is done completely by the computer. “All the answers are right there when you finish and you get to see how you did,” junior Jack Simison said.

Short answer tests, from a grading perspective, do not enhance the grading process by a teacher. However, grades are immediately computed into Schoology, if the teacher posts grades on Schoology. Digitized testing can also allow anxious students to see the tests scores faster, which will save teachers from the constant question, “When do we get our tests back?”