HHS teachers and administrators aren’t exactly breathing a sigh of relief after this week’s EOC practice tests, but they do seem to be breathing a little easier.

“It went well with only minor glitches with some of the wireless devices,” Principal Bob Cotter said Thursday (Nov. 16). “Everyone did indeed get on to do their practice. We hope this holds true once every high school in the state that has block schedules gets on the servers to test.”

The state is requiring all high schools to take the End-Of-Course tests online this year, and the mandate is raising concerns about network capacity. Only two years ago, the EOC was taken online as well, and serious problems were reported across the state. Last year, school systems had a choice, and Sumner County chose to administer the high-stakes tests on paper.

Although the EOC practice run Tuesday and Wednesday went well at HHS with the computer network holding up under the strain, there is still anxiety about the actual testing that begins after Thanksgiving break.

The Ville News spoke to some teachers about the issue last week. Their edited remarks are below.

  • “I have some concerns because many of my students struggle with typing. We plan to spend time on computers getting used to the format of the test.”

  -Carmen Watts, English Department

  • “I am nervous.  Time and accuracy will be the biggest struggles.  It will be a challenge for my students to input their equations into the computer in a timely manner with the program. HHS students are very technologically oriented, so I do feel certain our scores will still be the best in the county.”

   -Heather Thomas, Math Department

  • “I think that it can make the process more efficient, but only if the technology (wifi, laptops, desktops, etc.) are up to the task. But it also might present problems for students who are not as proficient on computers and don't have the ability to type as quickly as those that had extensive experience on computers.”

     -Daniel Saylor, Social Studies Department

  • “I feel that more preparation could’ve been done; it’s not the school’s fault or the county’s fault. I don’t know if the testing company decided that we needed to take it online this year but most of my kids can’t even send an email, so I don’t know how they’re going to be expected to take a test online and to flip back and forth between the reference sheet and the questions. I don’t think it’s time yet to take the tests online, and at the very least they should not have the score count against them. It’s a lot of pressure on a student to have to figure out the computer system.”

 -Alicia Farrar, Science Department

Ready or not, Cotter said, online EOC testing is here. “I don’t really have a choice, the state says all high schools in the state of Tennessee have to do it online this year. We didn’t have to do it last year, it was a pilot and we chose not to do it. It’s just something we have to do.”

He also said school administrators have a backup plan in case the wireless system fails.

“We have a wireless plan in hopes that we can do testing in classrooms … and then we have a wired plan where we would have to displace the business department in order to use their computers the whole time we are testing.

“That’s what I don’t like about it,” the principal added, “the uncertainty of whether the wireless network can carry that many computers trying to get online at the same time.”

Cotter also warned that it will be really important for students to turn off their phones during testing times because the devices affect network capacity.

“We need people to not have their phones on,” he said.

Story by Giulia Giordani and Kelsey Dotson


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