Math placement test goes online, increased fee

by Makani Moses

Western’s Math Placement Assessment will see another iteration as the test moves from an unmonitored online test to a proctored format.

The proctored format will increase the current fee of $35 MPA by $10. The additional fee will be sent to HonorLock, an online proctoring software. According to the guidelines, students can avoid the additional fee if they take the test in Western’s Testing Center.

According to the Testing Center’s website, the new proctored test will require students to employ a webcam and microphone while they are testing. The system will run through the online proctor service HonorLock which is run through a required Google Chrome extension.

“It was all on the honor system in the past,” Testing Administrator Karen Henriksen said. “The evidence from the math department was that there were students who were in classes that they really did not have the skills for, and they ended up dropping the classes or not passing.”

Junior Olivia Seminara has experience taking both a nonproctored online form of the MPA and one in the Testing Center.

“They should add that 10 extra dollars for the people to proctor the exams, just because the whole cheating thing can lead to people taking higher classes, and it would put you back and your GPA might drop because you took a class that was way too hard for you,” Seminara said.

So far, Western’s Testing Center has not received any negative feedback on the change, which Henriksen partially attributes to the value for students to be able to take the test at home.

“I think that possibly the convenience of being able to do it in their own home as opposed to traveling to the Testing Center makes up for it,” Henriksen said.

Henriksen said the proctored format was implemented approximately two months ago with the goal to have it in effect by the time incoming freshmen would be taking placement tests for fall 2018.  

Michael Kent, an HonorLock support service agent, detailed the system as a recording and review service where employees from HonorLock evaluate each test after completion and determine whether any violations had occurred.

“Currently, we have no sort of livestream monitoring capabilities at this time where we can watch the student taking the exam,” Kent said.

After the test is reviewed, HonorLock sends a report on each student to the university’s testing center. Each test is reviewed individually and in real time by an employee.

“We have enough people to take care of the longer exams to make sure we do not miss any violations,” Kent said.  

For students like Nariyan Krsnadas, adding a security measure like this is still beneficial to a student’s academic career despite the additional cost.

“Not only do you get to be in your own home to take it, but it’s just 10 more bucks to make sure everyone’s being honest,” senior Nariyan Krsnadas said. “I’m all for it.”

“The proctored system keeps you honest. It makes you learn. I think it’s pretty cool,” Krsnadas said.

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