AWA Testing

Sophomore students encounter a big change in district testing



Cody Bennett, Staff Writer

A new format of testing for the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) was rolled out to sophomore students when instead of taking this district assessment on pen and paper, the students used their school-issued laptops to type their essay.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24th and Thursday, Jan. 25th, sophomore students reported at 8 a.m. to their assigned testing. When students were still given a pre-writing booklet to draft their ideas, the actual assessment was typed using, an online testing website. With schoolcity,  teachers distribute a given code to students, they are then locked out of their browser, prohibiting students to look up answers on Google or Chrome. Schoolcity has gained popularity among English and math teachers, using the website more and more to not allow cheating on tests. classes have utilized this ability.

“Schoolcity is a different way for testing,” Geometry teacher Marcus McKenna said. “We cut down the use of paper, and we don’t have to grade anything, we can see the grades immediately and it’s overall easier for us teachers.”

In the weeks prior, students were given practice prompts in their English 10 and Honors English 10 classes.

“In English we wrote different kinds of essays,” sophomore Tessa House said. “Persuasive and compare and contrast, we also worked on intros and writing thesis.”

With this year being the first year of testing online, many technological problems came with the change.

“We all had to restart our computers before the test which took about 15 minutes,” House said. “I got back on and then had to update my laptop software which took another 20 minutes. Since the update was cutting into my test time, the teachers then gave me a student loaner computer and that one froze as well.”

This instance wasn’t the only issue the school server had, other students and entire classes were locked out and started testing late.

“The first day we had some connectivity issues to the district,” Hawkins said. “On the second day not so much. There were a few glitches causing students to be kicked out of testing, but no major problems.”

Students and teachers integrate more technology into their classrooms, making the technological change inevitable.

“I like it better because I could focus a lot more” sophomore Samantha Zimmer said. “It felt like I had more time to brainstorm and my hands didn’t get tired from typing.”

All tests proctors were able to give feedback on testing issues in their rooms which will be used to improve the online testing.

“There were logistical changes and the district worked very hard, making sure everyone was trained and prepared for any situation,” Hawkins said.

With 1,200  papers to grade for the AWA, the current class of 2020 has finished their final AWA necessary to graduate and possibly have a head start in their college career.