Botany Downs Secondary College
Students from Botany Downs Secondary College in Auckland have started a petition after notifying them less than a month in advance that one of their exams would be online.
The students who took the NCEA Level 1 science received an e-mail on 15 August in which they said their September paper would be a digital test. Before, "there was absolutely no prior notice," said organizer Chloe Yip of the petition.
"Nobody really knew that this really happened."
Principal Karen Brinsden said that the school applied to take part in the digital trial at the end of the previous parliamentary term, but did not inform students at that time because schools were not automatically accepted.
Another student also mailed stuff about the "drastic change" was the announcement at the last moment that they did not have the time to master the skills required for the test.
The exam is expected to convey students the information learned from the page to the screen.
"The graphs to be drawn, the squares to be labeled and the chemical reactions to be weighed […] all learned to be done by hand. Not the movement of typing on a keyboard but with pencil and paper. "
She said she was worried about the fact that it was more difficult to get a good score for online tests.
In three chemistry subject tests – done on paper – she got one merit and two excellencies.
In her mechanics subjects tests – done online – she achieved three achievements.
The differences in figures do not come to capacity, she said, but the medium of the tests. In an online test, she received an unfamiliar (NA) degree that she would not have received if the test had been on paper.
"I read the question again and again on paper […] Not yet online, I had to browse every slide until I found the right one and waited and waited for it to be loaded.
"This caused a loss of time and my NA figure."
Computer problems are another cause for concern when it comes to taking tests online.
The student was worried that the digital test would mean that she would have to buy a new laptop.
She said that she, like many of her peers, "hundreds to thousands of dollars." had spent on a laptop to study.
"It met the requirements of 5+ [hours of] battery life and 13 "screen and that it could be supported by Office 365. Tick, tap, tap.
"But jerky, since year 9 this laptop has begun to derail its expectations, but that only proves 2 hours of battery life and is slower and slower."
She said that students were told that chargers would not be allowed, because supplying outlets to all 450 students was not possible, and students were expected to have a laptop with a battery life of 5+ hours.
Brinsden said that school devices would be available to students who did not have access to them, or whose device did not meet the requirements for online digital assessment.
Digital exams can pose other obstacles for disadvantaged students, Yip said in her petition.
Online testing can be a challenge for students who started typing only since the beginning of the lecture, she said, putting them at a disadvantage "compared to the students who grew up learning to type and use computers".
No extra lessons have been set up to get these students up to speed before they are expected to take exams online, Yip said.
The septembre exam is a practice letter, which does not count for the final grade of a student, unless it has to be used as a derived degree.
The final exam is still written by hand, which means that students must be prepared for both formats.
"The inconsistency of the two exams is baffling," Yip said.
"By completing our online exams, it defeats half of the goal for which there are practical exams in the first place."
The digital trial is an important part of ensuring that young people "have the skills they need to succeed as part of a global workforce," said NZQA's deputy head of evaluation, Kristine Kilkelly.
"Many schools already use digital technology in almost every aspect of their education and learning, and it is logical that students are assessed with technology that they are familiar with."
In 2017, 6199 students from 97 schools participated in at least one of the digital test exams, and 4,226 students from 54 schools took part in at least one of the digital pilot exams.
Since 2014, almost three-quarters of secondary schools in New Zealand and about 30,000 students have had at least one online survey, according to NZQA.
NZQA has been in contact with Botany Downs Secondary College to ensure that it has the resources it needs for the level 1 digital test exam, Kilkelly said.