Horry County Schools prepare for state-required online testing next year

Horry County Schools prepare for state-required online testing next year

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - This week, thousands of Horry County students are taking state-mandated tests.

But next school year, students will not have to worry so much about having a No. 2 pencil and a test booklet, because traditional testing is being pushed out.

"I do believe this is where we are moving," said Demetrius Williams, one of the assistant principals at Whittmore Park Middle School. "Many of our students are digital natives; this is all they know," said Williams.

Williams said the students are familiar with technology since they use it everyday. He added it is just a natural progression to move toward online state tests.

The 800 students at Whittmore Park will use iPads and Macbooks for their tests. Williams said schools were given the option to try the online test this year, before all schools in South Carolina will have to comply.

Williams said there was a lot of logistic planning to prepare for the change, such as where students would test and finding a location for students who needed additional time.

"Kids were well adjusted, they handled well," Williams said. "They handled it well because our kids have experience with testing through MAP testing and through interacting with the different digital content providers we have in the building."

Staff said last year, educators spent hours sorting through test booklets for 800 students. John Williams, another assistant principal at Whittmore Park, said the process was stressful, as part of that endeavor was unpacking all the books when they were delivered and ensuring each one lined up with the individual student's right information..

This year, school officials felt the process of preparing the students for testing went smoother.

Parent Laurie Wise said her child was under stress during testing.

"She would be concerned that if a pencil broke in the middle of the test, what she was going to do," Wise said.

Now, Wise believed her daughter was at ease with a tool she is familiar with.

"She did express some concern over the writing piece, because they were using the iPads and did not have a keyboard," she said. "But after the test was over that day, it all was fine."

Other students at Whittmore Park, like eighth grader Joshua McCray, said online tests feel less intimidating than the traditional test booklets.

"We only see those tests once or twice a year, and we're not used to them as much as we are to the iPads," said McCray.

Wise said she can appreciate the change because she will see her child improve and the test results will come back quicker.

"I do feel like the electronic is more reliable," she said. "It's more real-time, less likely that data is going to get lost or testing questions are not going to be reflected accurately."

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