By Megan L’Heureux, Staff Writer  

UMF’s Testing Coordinator, Sue Ronald, in front of  one of the testing computers in Franklin Hall

UMF’s Testing Coordinator, Sue Ronald, in front of
one of the testing computers in Franklin Hall
(Photo by Meagan L’Heureux)

    Education Testing Services (ETS) is taking steps to eliminate paper pencil PraxisTM tests and moving towards computer-based testing only.

   UMF is working hard to focus on computerized testing because ETS is planning to transition to computer-based testing only, within the nest few years, Suzan Ronald, UMF’s Testing Coordinator, stated.

   Ronald said, “We are anticipating this could be our last year delivering paper and pencil exams.”

   Last fall, 2011, was the first year UMF delivered computerized PraxisTM tests. “For six years we lobbied ETS to administer computerized testing here,” said Ronald. If UMF did not have computerized testing, students would have to travel to Portland or Bangor to take the test.

   “There are many advantages to computerized testing,” Ronald said. “For most exams students get immediate score results, unlike paper-pencil which takes up to 45 days to receive score results. If students need to retest the turnaround time to reschedule is much quicker,” she said.

   UMF felt it was beneficial to get computerized testing here, Ronald continued because some students don’t have cars, there is no public transformation in Farmington, and the cost of gas is so high, it was a hardship for some students.

   The cost for paper-pencil and computer-based tests are the same.

   Because you get the results instantly when you take the PraxisTM on the computer, Megan Nadeau, a junior at UMF and employee of the Testing Center, said, “if the students need to take the test again they know that they need to sign up for the next one.” She said, “This gets students more proactive and less stressed about getting the test done before they need it to take their classes.”

   Nadeau said, “I think it is a positive aspect that UMF is bringing to the school.”

   In order “to keep computerized testing here we have to show volume,” Ronald said. “This year UMF only has 26 registered paper pencil tests for the November 3rd session.” This means most students are choosing to take the computerized test.  “We normally test 160 students on average per session over the last 2-3 years,” Ronald added.

   Some students seem apprehensive about the computerized testing. Alyssa Carignan, a junior at UMF, said, “I personally like to have the test physically in front of me, so for me it’s kind of a bummer.” Carignan continued, “I feel like I score better on pencil and paper test because I like to work through questions in my own time and computer testing makes me really nervous so I tend to go through the test faster, which probably isn’t good.”

   Carignan isn’t the only student who has a problem with UMF switching over to computerized testing. “I have taken the PraxisTM on both paper and the computer. The computer provides more distractions for me,” Emily Higgins, a junior at UMF, said. “If I had to recommend it to anyone, I would recommend the paper test, but that’s not an option any more,” she continued.

   “I think it will be difficult for students with learning disabilities,” Higgins stated.

    Ronald said UMF “will still provide paper and pencil testing with students who need special accommodations.”