by Brianna Cabral
The eighth graders took the new online MCAS on April 5-6. This added additional stress for the students taking the test. Not only did they have to take an important test, but they now had to take it in a new way.
Students tried to use the new tools and skills during a practice test on March 28. Students will still have to highlight and measure shapes in the upcoming math test, but it will be done through a screen and with their mouse.
Eighth grader Jenny Larrieux is concerned about these changes. She believes “the test will be harder because there are new tools that are hard to get used to.”
One of the new tools is a digital ruler. According to Larrieux the ruler is small and hard to rotate for it to be able to line up with what they are measuring.
To address these concerns, there are afterschool prep sessions to give students more practice through an MCAS test simulation.
Eighth grader Alex Colleoni-Pimenta already spends hours to complete the paper test. On the computers there are even more options to choose from. With more options he will have to spend even more time on the test, which could cause him not to finish.
“On the bright side, there is no limit for how long you can write for the open responses. This way we can get our points across very clearly and have a finished statement,” Colleoni-Pimenta says.
Not finishing is Pimenta’s biggest worry, but the faculty worry that the students could leave the website or cheat. According to Larrieux there is no way to leave the website without a test administrator knowing. To lessen the chances of cheating even more, the eighth grade students have been separated throughout the school with a small amount of students in each class.
The teachers themselves have been taking classes, so they understand the test and its new features.
Despite all of these changes, test administration was a success. Ellen Schuck, curriculum director for technology, described her feelings on how the first week of the new MCAS went. “I would say from 1-100 we were probably at a 90-95. [From a technical perspective,] we were very well prepared and we made sure we had everything in place. There were hiccups in the beginning of each testing day because some of the older computers wouldn’t connect to the website, but otherwise I think [the MCAS] went very well.”