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Sunday, May 12, 2013
Standardized Tests to go Digital?
It's hard to imagine a world without No.2 pencils and fill-in-the-bubble Scantron sheets, but that day may soon be upon us.
The Associated Press reports that the ACT has announced its intention to begin administering the test on iPads as early as 2015. Functionally speaking, it should be easier to take a test using a touchscreen. Additionally, use of iPads would allow for interactive features making the test-taking process more visually interactive.
The greatest advantage, according to the test-makers? Students won't need to wait as long to receive their scores.
As with any transition, this change is bound to be fraught with hiccups. Computers are expensive. Security breaches (ie...cheating) would be more difficult to monitor. People aren't likely to steal test-sheets; iPads are a lot more appealing. Most of all, not all students will be comfortable using a tablet.
Because of these access and comfort issues, the ACT plans to continue offering the test in written form, raising questions of how to grade digital/written tests equitably.
I see yet another socioeconomic issue arising. Middle to upper class students already have advantages when it comes to standardized testing. Their parents can afford test workshops. Their high schools are more likely to have the resources to focus on college prep. These are the same students who may already have iPads at home.
This isn't to say that digital progress is a bad thing. Let's just hope the ACT--and the testing agencies that may follow in their footsteps-do everything they can to keep the playing field level.
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