Level 1 Science School Exam at BDSC - Rushing into digitalising

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On the 15th of August, 2018, I received an e-mail from my school account to inform me about this year I will be taking my science school exam online with my own devices. At first, I was ecstatic; our school was finally being more conscious with their usage of paper, and are willing to change for the better. However, after careful thought, I figured that there are major problems with taking exams with devices.

Now I understand that since there is only merely a month until the exam, it is likely that nothing will change. However, through this platform I would like to express my utter dissatisfaction with how the school has handled this situation.

I have taken several science tests online on a platform called Education Perfect this year. I presume that it will also be used for the exam this year. From what I’ve heard, it clears the clipboard before anyone can start doing their assignment and requires the user to keep full screen at all times, meaning no one can bring in any material into the platform and cheat. However, I have also heard that it is however, possible to take written material out of the exam as the platform does not clear the clipboard before the student finish and submit their examination. This can create a problem for those who will be sitting the exams after the majority has, as there is a chance they can access the information before they take their exam. Traditionally, students can memorise questions asked and tell them to those who are yet to sit the exam. However, the use of a clipboard is totally different as then students can access the exact wording of questions, or exact answers of questions right before they sit their exam. If this situation were to occur, it would be a huge disadvantage to those who sat the examination first. It would be a better idea if the platform were to fix such problems before the school actually start using the tool to assess their students.

This examination is called a ‘practice exam’ by the school, which doesn’t only mean it is a practice for the upcoming actual NCEA external examinations but might also be used as an emergency derived grade. I believe the purpose of the practice examination is to let the students who will be sitting the exams at the end of the year know how it would be like. However, since in the actual external examinations that will be taken in November will be hand-written as far as I know, we would have to study in both ways. Typing before our practice exams, and writing before the external exams. The conditions of the actual exams will be vastly different; less typing noise but slower writing speed. The speed of us completing the questions will be different, from student to student for typing and writing, even though the same amount of time will be given to us for both of the exams. The inconsistency of the two exams is baffling and making us complete our exams online defeats half of the purpose why there are practice exams in the first place.

Moreover, some students have only started to learn how to touch-type or type fast enough since starting college. This might put a disadvantage to the less privileged students compared to the students who grew up learning how to type and use computers. If the school were to implement such act, they should at least provide aid for underprivileged students, but I have not seen any after-school clubs or advertisements teaching them how to type.

The announcement of the nature of this examination is also really rushed. As I have previously stated, I received this e-mail on the 15th August, 2018, and the date of my examination is 14th September, 2018, meaning that I only had one month of notice. Before receiving this e-mail, there was absolutely no prior notice, and no one really knew this was really happening. It would be a better option for the school to notify the students and the parents more early about this, preferably in the beginning of the year when the course has just started.

ETA: Not everyone has a laptop that will last 3 hours. The school isn't providing charging ports or school laptops, and not everyone can afford a new laptop for one single practice exam.

I understand that since it is so close from the actual exams, most questions will almost be prepared and therefore there is no turning back. However, if you still agree with what I have said, I would really appreciate it if you leave a signature so that the school sees and understand this issue, so next time a situation similar to this were to occur, the school will be able to handle it and organise it better. Thank you for your attention.

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