Computer-Based English MCAS Implemented At SHS

By: Sarah Yi (Correspondent)

After taking the English MCAS, many sophomores say that they were glad that the English MCAS was taken on the computer because it made constructing essays way easier.

This year was the first year that all the English MCAS assessments were taken on the computer at Sharon High School. In the previous years, the English MCAS had to be handwritten while the school has been finding a way to have the whole grade on the same server at the same time.

Sophomore Cole King says that the computer-based MCAS was a good thing because he could type essays instead of handwriting them. “I think it [English MCAS on paper] would have been harder due to the fact that we had to write four essays and handwriting that many would not have been fun,” said King.

“I thought that the format was okay, but the one thing I thought could have been changed was the way they asked some of the multiple choice questions,” added King. He said that the questions were harder than the previous MCAS tests since they went into more depth and required more analysis.

King says that his teacher prepared him very well for the assessment by using practice packets and other study material. “I felt like all of the questions were reasonable for me,” said King.

Although he preferred the English MCAS on the computer, King says that he would prefer the upcoming math MCAS to be on paper. “For math, you need to do calculations and more critical thinking, so it would be better if I could write directly on the test opposed to on my scratch paper,” added King.

Sophomore Jasmine Villaroel also liked how the English MCAS was computer-based instead of on paper. “I think that the test is easier online because you have the liberty of deleting in second rather than having to erase constantly,” said Villaroel.

“I appreciate that the MCAS was only two days instead of three as in previous years; however, I became quite anxious after looking at a screen for a few hours,” added Villaroel.

She says that the excerpts and questions were fair in comparison to the assessment in previous years. “I think that I was well prepared for the MCAS as I have done plenty of essays in the beginning half of the year in preparation for the test,” said Villaroel. She says that her teachers made sure everyone was prepared for the assessment.

Villaroel agrees with King about how the math MCAS should be on paper. “I absolutely think that the math MCAS should be on paper because it is far too easy to make an arithmetic mistake in the computer simply because you mistyped a number or something of the sort. Math, in general, is something that students do on paper, and in my opinion, the test should be no different,” said Villaroel.

She says that the English MCAS was fitting to be computer-based because it is easier for students to type their essays just like they do for regular essays in class. However, just because the English MCAS was on the computer, the Math MCAS is not as fitting to be taken on the computer due to calculations and potential mathematical errors.

Just like Villaroel and King, sophomore Jeffrey Xiang also says that he was glad that the English MCAS was computer-based due to the excessive amount of writing needed. “I don’t think the paper MCAS would have been harder, but I do think it would have been more annoying to write out the essays by hand,” said Xiang.

“I liked the different formats of some of the questions, such as matching, filling in a table,” said Xiang. He said it made the test less boring. “I thought that the different formats of the written response, such as a diary entry or a petition letter, felt easier to write,” added Xiang.

In comparison to previous years, Xiang says that the questions were generally similar difficulty. However, Xiang says that a few prompts need more in-depth answers than years before. Luckily, he says that his teachers prepped him well to succeed in the exam. “They integrated similar writing prompts into course work and assessments throughout the year,” said Xiang.

Unlike King and Villaroel, Xiang says that taking the Math MCAS on paper or on the computer wouldn’t make a big difference. “Either way it would be a really similar experience,” concluded Xiang.

Sophomore Janelle Li thought the assessment was just okay. “I don’t really like computer-based tests, but that wasn’t awful. It was really long though,” said Li. She says the test would’ve been easier on paper because she could concentrate better when tests are on paper.

She says that the teachers did the best they could to prepare their students. “There’s not really a lot they can do to prepare us for MCAS,” added Li. She says that she would have liked if the teachers gave the students some more free time or relaxing lessons after the test.

Li definitely prefers the Math MCAS to be on paper. “It’s so much easier to see the problems and mark them up on paper. It’s also easier to write the responses on paper because typing them on a computer is a lot of work,” concluded Li.

Sophomore Cleo Zhou says that the computer-based assessment was far but very long. “We had to write two essays in a matter of two and a half hours along with more multiple choice questions. Despite the time strain, the MCAS itself was easy,” said Zhou.

“I think it would’ve been harder on paper because you had to write a lot and it would’ve been a lot of work on your hand,” added Zhou. However, she says it would’ve been nice to have a break from the computer because looking at the screen for two or more hours gave her a major headache.

Zhou says that the format of the computer-based assessment was two essays with around twenty multiple choice questions. “The format was just long. I would prefer if they only made us write one essay,” said Zhou. In addition, she says that the questions were around the same level compared to previous years.

“The teachers did prepare me well for the test. And if they didn’t they wouldn’t really know how to prepare us better due to the lack of information they were given from the state about the MCAS,” added Zhou. In addition, she would prefer if the Math MCAS was on paper because it’s hard to do the math on the computer.

Technical difficulties and many more issues could occur when more than 300 students test on the computer. Technology Integration Specialist Ms. Stacey Newman says there weren’t many issues with this assessment. “From our end, everything went smoothly,” said Newman.

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