Testing Out the Testing Service


Sarina Caltagirone, Managing Editor

We may not realize it, but teachers actually have more work than we think. While students are consumed with homework, studying for exams, sports practice and extracurriculars, teachers are planning their daily lessons for every class and grading their students’ homework, quizzes, tests, or projects. We only have to do one assignment. Teachers have to grade over 25 per class.

And when a student has to miss an exam, even more work is added to a teacher’s already chaotic schedule. To us, missing an exam means getting a couple more days to study. But to teachers, missing a test means having to incorporate another event into their busy lives.

For example, if many students miss a test that takes up the whole class period, a teacher has to find time individually for each students to sit and take the test. Seven missed tests equals seven hours for that teacher.

Pres’s new after school testing service was developed to relieve our teachers of this burden. With teachers teaching full time, coaching sports, constantly going to meetings, and acting as club moderators, it is likely for a student and teacher’s schedule to not match up for a makeup exam.

Not only does this new system relieve teachers of their burden, but it also creates a more consistent testing method for students who have missed multiple tests.

Students have explained how easy it is to retake their tests, especially in such a quiet environment with no distractions. Freshman Alyssa Jones says, “I liked how quick and simple it was: You get in, you take your test, and then you leave.”

Sophomore Helena Ajlouni adds, “It was really good because it was in a quiet area and you could take your time. I think it’s good because it’s an easy environment. I am also not as worried to miss a test day because of this.”

Katherine Huotari, in charge of the testing center, explained the process of how to schedule a makeup exam. When the teacher gives the test to her class, she emails the absent student and copies Huotari on the email. Huotari then directly sends the absentee an email about her availability, and the student has five school days to take the exam after she returns to school.

Huotari admits the service is difficult to manage at times. The email communication is the most tedious part of the process. She says, “I come to school every morning with easily 15-20 emails. It’s always the first part of my day just responding to emails.”

And the teachers understand the difficult process Huotari manages as well. History teacher Sarah Thomas says, “I know that it has become a lot of work for the testing center. It’s just putting the same amount of work somewhere else, so I understand that the system still needs tweaking at this point.”

Since this center is still in its first trials, Vice Principal of Academics Katherine Georgiev, Vice Principal of Student Services Lisa Tripoli, and Huotari have been tracking data throughout the semester. They found that tests are more common in certain weeks because of Pres’s hectic schedule.

For example, they found that in one week in September, more make up exams were given because students attended the Urban Plunge or Junior Retreat and had to miss class.

Huotari says, “We’re taking this information and Mrs. Georgiev and I are working on finding ways to spread out the events and talk to the teachers. Right now since it is so new, we are just in data collection mode, but then once we get that we will be able to move forward in the future.”

One major area for improvement would be limiting the number of mandatory collaborations throughout the year because most make up tests are given during this time. The administration is also looking to expand the testing center to more than just after school hours and giving the option to take an exam during a free period for even more convenience.

With 25 teachers using the testing center, Huotari said she has proctored 223 quizzes and tests so far this semester. She hopes that in the future they can have an online sign-up service where the student can pick a time and date with their availability in order to limit the number of emails being sent in scheduling.

Huotari has noticed the the amount of work she has put in, even in just this quarter. But she says, “Relieving the teacher’s stress is what makes me happy and feel fulfilled. Because it isn’t just scheduling. Anyone can do that. But knowing that I can help other people feel better about their day to day life makes me feel good.”

And Huotari’s job definitely isn’t going unnoticed. The teacher feedback has been extremely positive and grateful for this service. Thomas says, “She is a godsend. I know that she is interfacing with the students and taking a lot of the burden off of the teachers in order that we can focus our attention on academic work instead of scheduling.”

English teacher Angelina Paxton adds, “I think it is really organized…the immediate feedback from Mrs. Huotari is really helpful, so I’d like to say a big thank you.”

As for students, Huotari suggests that they make sure to schedule their test as soon as they can. She wants to remind them that it is okay to miss club meetings or sports practices for academic purposes.

Especially here at Pres, we often feel inclined to have to do everything simultaneously. With sports practices, games, tournaments, club meetings, jobs, and other outside extracurriculars, it is easy to feel the stress of what feels like an endless panic attack.

But it is important to know that Pres always wants our health and academics to be our first priority. “Make sure to take care of your learning first, and everything else will fall into place,” Huotari says.