Testing the Waters of Virtual Assessments
by Abigail Martin
Tests have always been an infamous part of a high schooler’s life, and while assessments are changing, they aren’t going away! Teachers have been using the pandemic to explore new assessment methods that promote integrity and academically assess students’ knowledge. However, as the school year progresses, we are finding that some parts of these assessments add increased stress to the already overwhelming life of a highschooler.
For some people, these new testing strategies take the focus away from the curriculum and make the testing day a lot more stressful. “Certain assessments I am doing well in, but others have confusing layouts, and it not only stresses me out, but the focus becomes learning how to take the test rather than learning the content that is on it,” says Kitana, a student who transferred from the hybrid continuum to the remote learning pathway.
Teachers are increasingly utilizing online testing sites like Edulastic and Newsela and experimenting with reimagined assessment techniques such as take-home quizzes and smaller, more frequent graded worksheets and “do-nows.” This new format does have some positive benefits, and it decreases the pressure of studying for major assessments. “We aren’t having formal tests and stressing out over one big exam, instead we are tested at the pace of our learning. I love that.” says Lucia, a member of the hybrid continuum.
Especially with project-based learning becoming used more frequently, these methods seem to be a better way to assess students and keep the academic integrity of the classroom. Laura, a member of the hybrid continuum, touched upon this saying, “I think assessment should be framed as more project-based work and allow students to use resources. Let’s embrace the resources. We can’t give tests anymore where students can’t use resources because half of the students have access to unlimited resources. It makes the student think about the material and implement it instead of just purely copying it off of the internet.”
However, with the pressure being taken off of assessments, juggling the workload has been increasingly harder. As Iva, a member of the hybrid continuum, said, “When you do have deadlines piling up, it’s not tests or homework, it’s projects.” This is not necessarily because of an increase in homework, but there is less and less predictability in the amount of homework. “The whole way we are working right now, it makes it much more straining. [...] It should be a more consistent workload. [...] You never know what you are going to get,” continues Lucia.
These new assessment strategies present a difficult situation for both students and teachers, however, the CHS community has done a fantastic job adapting to these new practices. While stress will always impact student life, it is a marvel how CHS is trying to minimize stress and maximize integrity in this crazy time.