Students adjust to new testing format and using Chromebooks


Justine Do-Huynh

(left to right) Juniors Lyna Le and Hannah Jobrack try out the new Chromebooks in preparation for Common Core testing next week.

Amber Buhagiar and Anmol Mahal

Bear Creek’s sophomores and juniors are scheduled to take the new Common Core test next week on the Chromebooks that have been distributed to English and History classrooms.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a state-led group developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math. In order to prepare, the students have taken practice tests on the Chromebooks and have spent class time learning how to use the machines.

“I thought it was harder mostly because I am so used to taking paper and pencil tests,” junior Cameron Morelli said. “I found it harder to read the passages and questions since I usually annotate things.”

English teacher Xianh Xiong explained that students have the option to flag a question after answering in order to return to it later. This way, students can check their answers before submitting.

“It’s similar to paper pencil test in that aspect,” Xiong said. “I like that students can flag their questions because it prompts students on screen.”

Xiong noted that there were no technical issues with the test, although she notices that students are taking longer to complete the sections— mainly free response questions.

“The questions aren’t straightforward and make you think in a different way,” Morelli said.

“They don’t just have to write A, B, C or D,” Xiong said. “It makes the test more intimidating for them. Once they get the format, we can focus on content.”

Although the practice test have allowed students to get a feel for the actual test, others are also concerned that there is not enough time provided to answer all the questions.  With the new format, many of the answers take longer to answer because responses must be typed out.

“I would rather bubble it in because it takes too much time on the Chromebooks,” junior Annie Nguyen said. “We have to highlight and mark as we go which takes away time from actually trying to answer questions.”

Junior Vincent Grimaldi says the test is actually easier.

“The test had questions like ‘rewrite this paragraph,’ ‘give examples,’ and ‘paraphrase the above passage,’” junior Vincent Grimaldi said. “There was more multiple choice than free response questions.”

Grimaldi says that the only problem he has observed thus far with Common Core are the scheduling conflicts. Students will be on an altered schedule from April 29 – May 1.

Some teachers are concerned with the content of the paper-pencil practice exercises that are being administered to students during class. This year, history teachers were prompted to work on an English related exercise about poetry.

“If it’s common core, any teacher should be able to administer SBAC,” United States history teacher Beth Oesterman said. “I can definitely read the paper, but I can’t answer any questions since it is not my subject.”

Much of the time during preparation for the test was spent learning how to use the Chromebooks.

“The practice test was really challenging because they take simple problems and make them complex,” sophomore Jessica Dang said. “They are just trying to get you to do simple problems a certain way.”

While the test is new and unfamiliar, most students agree that the new testing system will be beneficial in the long run.