The PHS and MHS Testing Center opened its doors Tuesday, Oct. 11, allowing students to more easily make up or retake tests. The Testing Center, a small room connected to the library, is an optional resource that allows teachers to administer make up tests without being present. The Testing Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
When a student needs to make up a test, teachers now have the option of directing students to the Testing Center. The teacher then delivers the test to the Testing Center, and the student can visit at a convenient time on Tuesday or Friday to take the test.
Testing Center Coordinator Neil Pereira will work in the Testing Center to administer and proctor tests.
“I will say frankly that a lot of makeup testing [in the past] was done where the student was taking the test in a room full of students that were in tutorial. The kid was writing his test, and the student next to him would help him,” Pereira said. “The testing was not done in strict accordance to what the teacher wanted.”
Pereira said the Testing Center will be an asset to the school.
“It gives teachers an opportunity to have integrity in their makeup tests,” Pereira said. “It’s almost like the teacher being here [administering] the tests.”
Assistant principal Eric Mapes said that he hopes the Testing Center will reduce student and teacher stress.
“When I was new, I would hear from teachers and students [who] would say it’s hard when you miss school, because when you come back you have so much to make up,” Mapes said. “That’s kind of when we saw this, Mr. Daniels and I, [and] we both said, ‘we need to make this happen.’”
The Testing Center is a pilot program, meaning Mapes and the administration will alter the program as they receive feedback, Mapes said.
“Everything is always in flux at this school, nothing is ever set in stone,” Mapes said. “There will be things changing as we go through the process and we figure stuff out. The Testing Center, it’s going to evolve.”
Currently the Testing Center is open Tuesdays and Fridays, but the hours may be expanded if it proves effective, Mapes said.
Mapes said the Testing Center program is another step in improving the social-emotional atmosphere at PHS. The new bell schedule, the Challenge Success surveys, and the California Healthy Kids survey all contribute to the same goals.
“It’s about how we can help students with stress and help manage life as a high school student. It’s not easy, and there’s always going to be some pressure,” Mapes said.
Palo Alto High School inspired Mapes and principal Brent Daniels to create the Testing Center, Mapes said. This idea came to Mapes during research into the block schedule.
Mapes said that the new bell schedule made the Testing Center possible.
Senior Isabella Newbrun made up a test for civics at the Testing Center the week it opened.
“It was helpful to be able to go take the test there because I had a free period but my teacher [Dave Keller] had a class and I needed to get the test done,” Newbrun said.
Social studies teacher Janine Sohn said she plans to use the Testing Center in the future.
“I think sometimes it doesn’t work out that a student can come to tutorial, or after school,” Sohn said. “If there are times that they can go to the Testing Center, that will be nice.”
Math teacher Doyle O’Regan said he will not use the Testing Center.
“I have other ways of handling make-up exams that I take care of myself, I’m assuming most teachers do as well,” O’Regan said.
O’Regan was also concerned about the cost to the school.
“We keep hearing that money is tight, but [then] we see an expense like this,” O’Regan said.
Mapes said the Testing Center in total cost the school $7,500, a budget drawn from the district and school site funds.
The Testing Center may also be used for extended time tests. Due to some paperwork rules in the Learning Center, the use of the Testing Center may prove to be difficult, said Special Education Department co-chair Nicole Stark.
“Currently most of our [Individualized Educational Program] paperwork says that if a student is entitled to extra time on a test, it’s to be taken in the Learning Center, so that’s a little bit problematic,” Stark said.
Stark said that in the future, the Learning Center may redirect some of the more independent test takers to use the Testing Center if the paperwork issues can be circumvented.