Teachers weigh merits of digital testing

Many tests are now taken online where it is immediately graded for the test takers to see their scores. Though convenient, there are also some challenges that online tests have. For example, some people can cheat on tests easier by looking something up online. 

“We as an English 10 team were having problems with keeping track with kids and making sure that their test scores reflect their abilities and their learning,” English teacher Molly Magil said.  “Pen and paper tests are more reliable to prevent cheating because you don’t have the temptation to use the Internet,” social studies teacher Traci Walsh said.  

According to physics teacher Autumn Weaver, another benefit of taking tests on pen and paper is “it’s easier to do paper and pen tests in terms of using mathematical equations, diagrams and graphs.”  

Walsh has a similar spin. “I think that they can be harder in terms of processing and I feel like I don’t read something as thoroughly as when I read it on paper.  Paper and pen tests also give practice to the students who will take higher level tests because they are pen and paper tests,”  Walsh said.  

But for some, the digital option is better than the paper and pen tests.  “I think computer tests are really nice for grading purposes,” Weaver said.  Walsh also said the speed of evaluation is “easier when it comes to the writing portion. I can punch faster than writing, so I can put my thoughts to the paper easier.”

But Walsh doesn’t think either option will take over totally. “I don’t think paper and pen tests will go away completely but I think we will see a trend to go away from them. Change is hard for some people, and sometimes the transition for a test to a digital test is clunky and time consuming.  It’s just easier to keep what you have than taking time to transition,”  Walsh said.

Other teachers also debated the futures of each testing approach. “I think for specific subjects, it would be OK for the tests to only be taken online, but for science it would be really hard to get away from paper and pen tests because we have to use equations,” Weaver said. 

“It could be possible that paper and pen tests will go away completely, and I think it reflects on how ISAPS are done because before they were taken with pen and paper, and now it is on a computer,” Magil said.

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