Trial run reveals challenges of new high-stakes testing environment


Recently, in preparation for the ODE and Common Core testing, Fairmont High School decided to do a test run to work out the kinks of the mass testing process.

Starting this week, state graduation tests will be taken on Google Chromebooks rather than the paper-and-pencil Ohio Graduation Tests of old. Also, students are going to test in large-scale testing environments with hundreds of students testing at once, online, in the same room.

Enough said: Logistical problems were expected.

After a seemingly endless flow of freshmen, about halt of the freshman class, piled into the Cafeteria, the atmosphere was understandably pretty chaotic. The computers were already in place, but it took some time before the administration was ready to instruct the students. After a delay, the students were instructed to log in, which didn’t go well. All the computers crashed.

The administration, faced with their first problem, tried a logical solution. The bandwidth, apparently, was overloaded by all the traffic, and students were instructed to turn their phones off to ease the stress on the network. Whatever that means.

Everyone attempted to log in again. About 25 percent of students were perfectly fine, but roughly 75 percent of practice test takers kept experiencing issues. They still weren’t able to log on.

The “proctor,” or the administrator of the tests, had to manually reboot each computer to finally get the computers to work properly. Still, not everyone could log into the site at the same time. It turns out that the problem was the massive number of students attempting to log in at once, so the administrators had students log in one cafeteria table at a time. That took another 20 minutes.

So, of the allotted time given to test the new testing format, everything worked properly, with everyone logged on … for the last 5 minutes. Imagine if this were the real test.

Students wanting to see what the tests consisted of skimmed hurriedly through as much as they could. The consensus was that these new tests are much more rigorous than the Ohio Achievement Assessments. The standards are high, and apparently so is the usage of bandwidth.

The first crack at the new testing setup presented a lot of issues for both staff and students. The good thing is that the district executed this practice run to uncover the problems, as there were a lot of them.

However, Fairmont as a whole will succeed. We have the right mindset, the right students, and most importantly the right teachers.