Highland Rambler

The student news site of Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah

Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

ACT Dilemma

Highland Determined To Ensure Testing Goes Smoothly This Year
Hannah Pace

Imagine walking into school to take the ACT. You have butterflies in your stomach moments before you are about to take the dreaded test you’ve been hearing about since kindergarten. And then boom… it crashes, and you can’t get back in for 15, 20, even 30 minutes.
Then, it crashes again.
This unfortunately was not just a nightmare for last year’s juniors as testing interruptions plagued Highland students. The day was a mass chaos of students rushing to switch classrooms, teachers running around to fix computers, and Highland testing coordinator Karrie Jarratt bursting into classrooms to try and fix tech issues that she has not been trained to fix.
Testing has become nearly fully digital because it can be, but should it be digital? Jarratt doesn’t think so.
“Last year we had a lack of hot spots in the school,” Jarratt said. “That was the base of most of our problems.”
But for students who chose to take the test on paper, the day was smooth. They started on time and finished before anyone else. Paper doesn’t crash.
The free ACT is, as a default, given to students on computers now, which is more sustainable, but causes many more issues for students.
Jarratt requested paper tests to be available for all students who request them so that there are fewer technical issues this year.
“I’ve tried everything I could to be able to give paper tests to students,” Jarratt said. “All my requests were denied though.”
With everything being done on computers, Jarratt and Highland computer technician Russ Hansen have been working together to make the testing day run more smoothly.
One of the biggest issues that was caused due to the interruptions was that the school could not synchronize breaks, which was the plan. Very few of the classrooms started or finished at the same time, so breaks had to be staggered, which led to noisy hallways at times.
To help with the computers crashing this year, Jarratt plans to put more hotspots around the school to provide stronger internet service. This will help to make sure that students are not being interrupted during the test as frequently, Jarratt hopes, and that students are able to all get out of the test at the same time.
“One of the most important parts of taking the ACT is being in the zone,” Jarratt said. “The computers crashing completely interrupted that.”
Another concern that has been brought up is the ACT testing makeup day. Last year it happened one week later in the library. Many issues happened during this. Because it was in the library during school hours; so, classes were coming in and out, bells ringing, and there were tons of distractions with computers also not working that day.
“I think that the makeup day was bad for all students doing it,” Jarratt said. “I have a classroom set aside for it this year so hopefully it will be better.”
Highland also does not offer Saturday ACTs like other schools do in the district. Highland is one of the only schools that does not offer a test on Saturday mornings.
“I think that offering a Saturday test here [at Highland] would make students be more inclined to take it,” Jarratt said. “It would make it much more accessible than having to drive to Olympus or Skyline.”
As the ACT approaches, the school is searching for ideas on how to improve the experience for students, teachers, and other faculty at Highland. This year the school hopes for ease with the test and for way fewer problems.

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