Tests should be abolished during the pandemic

Jessie Feinstein, Contributing Writer

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers are facing many new challenges in learning and testing.  It has been difficult to adapt to the new learning environment and the hybrid school structure.  On remote days, students have to face the stresses of school from their bedrooms at home, making it more difficult to retain information and stay focused.  When they are able to attend school, they must sit in desks six feet apart and keep masks on throughout the class.  Considering these obstacles, it is impossible to make this year’s learning as effective  as in the past before COVID.  However, there are a few changes that can be put into place that would improve this difficult situation.

One change that would be quite beneficial would be to temporarily stop administering tests and, instead, focus on other teaching techniques, so students could be engaged in class.  This year, teachers have been teaching lessons, often geared to the in-school kids, which are then followed by challenging assessments.  In many classes, half the students take the assessment at home, while the other half of the students take it during class.  Often students at home search for answers on the Internet, contact other kids in the class, or use their notes.  

Although some teachers avoid this problem by giving all students the test while their team is attending school, it is still unfair because the fully remote students may have an advantage.  In addition, with test-taking occurring on multiple days, some students have more time to study and, oftentimes, one team consistently takes the test before the other.  If those students take all tests from home, they may have an advantage on every test.  In order to completely avoid this problem, it would be best to remove all in-class tests.

“Tests are unfair with half of the students remote. Although students try to prevent cheating, it is impossible to ensure that no one is. This gives the kids at home an unfair advantage over the students taking the test at school,” said junior Kayla Caplin.

If the COVID cases continue to increase, the school district will most likely make the decision to go all virtual.  If this happens, many students will struggle to focus on the lessons being taught.  Some will inevitably zone out during class, and they will not feel the need to participate.  Not only is it more difficult to focus, but many will also lack motivation since they will be able to cheat on tests that will all be taken from home.

An alternative to tests could be to base the majority of a student’s grade on participation and assign points based on how often and how well a student adds to class discussions.  This would make learning more effective by motivating students to stay focused in order to thoroughly comprehend the lesson.  Students will feel as if they should speak more often throughout the class, which will improve the overall learning environment and sense of community.  This will help keep the class as a whole engaged.

“Tests have been very difficult this year, especially because of the lack of participation in the remote environment,” said sophomore Tyler Duran.

Another way to assess a student’s understanding of class material might be to assign more projects.  Projects are often more enjoyable than taking tests and, in a difficult social time, would increase human-to-human connections.  The projects could offer students a chance to show their creativity and their general understanding of the material.  This would make learning more pleasing to the students, and it would give them an alternative way to show teachers what they have learned.

Taking away tests and replacing them with participation points and projects is fairer, more beneficial, and more enjoyable for students.  If school becomes fully virtual, tests will no longer show students’ understanding of the material, only how well they can use their notes.  There are better ways to ensure that students are learning the course material, most notably through class participation and projects.