By Hannah Bensen, Current Staff
Next week brings a time of great stress for students: exam week. And this year, exams are going to look very different.
This year, teachers in a core subject (English, math, science, social studies, and world language) will be required to use an online testing system called Galileo either in place of or in addition to another course-specific exam. AP classes are not required to use the new online system.
Darci VanAdestine, Director of High School Teaching and Learning, said Galileo is a “system that houses online assessments. The teachers that give online assessments in their class are able to track it and house it inside Galileo.”
So how does Galileo work?
“Teachers choose the top standards they will be covering that year,” VanAdestine said. “Then there are banks of questions that relate to all those standards that are already in the system [and] are nationally normed to the Wisconsin Academic Standards that teachers can then select to appear on their exam. They can [then] see a test that’s been generated, they go through the questions and select what questions are appropriate for the students.”
“The process started eight months ago with teacher input,” Principal Bill Greymont said.
The reason for the change in format is because Galileo can allow “teachers to see each individual student’s data and the areas that they need to grow in and create what’s called interventions,” VanAdestine said. An intervention is used, for example, to target students that do not understand a particular standard or idea, and re-teach that idea.
“The teachers that give online assessments in their class are able to track it and house it inside Galileo.”
– Darci VanAdestine, Director of High School Teaching and Learning
Another reason for the new system is so that students can get used to taking online tests as ASPIRE and ACT exams move to online formats.
Not only has the format changed for students, but so has the exam schedule. Because there are not enough computers for all students to test on, each exam session had to be split into two one-hour segments. This way, an East science class would take an hour-long Galileo online test first, have a break, and then take an hour-long test in traditional format. The West science counterpart would do the opposite order, with the computers being transferred to the West classroom during the break. If an AP or non-core student only has an exam that is only one hour long, they are allowed to leave the exam early or arrive late as necessary.
Teachers will be allowed to place a curve on the online part of the test. Also, Galileo can count for as little as 5% of a student’s semester grade (or 33% of the exam grade).
“While the exam format is different this year it does not change how your son or daughter should study,” Greymont said in a December newsletter sent to families.
(Top image: Justus Sustermans’ 1636 painting “Portrait of Galileo Galilei,” retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.)