Putting LaunchED…to the Test!

Tyler McNamara, Staff Writer

It’s that time of the week again! That’s right, it’s time for The Blue and White to publish an article talking about how COVID has changed things. While the topic may come across as stale by this point, the virus obviously still plays quite a significant role in our everyday lives. As such, it is important to talk about the ways in which Apopka High School is and will be affected. With the first round of standardized testing right around the corner, it seems appropriate to discuss how both on-campus and LaunchED students will go about participating in testing whilst being safe and healthy in this pandemic.

To establish a bit of context, it would help to look back to March of this year, when the country was sent into lockdown and the schools went along with it. Nevertheless, students were still required to participate in school via distance learning. One of the big questions that many people shared at that time was on the topic of testing. Would testing be delayed, or even canceled? For Florida students taking the FSA, the answer was the latter.

Courtesy of the CollegeBoard Twitter account

For Advanced Placement students, it was a different story. CollegeBoard decided not to cancel the test, which meant that serious changes had to be made to adapt to the global situation. The test, which usually would have been taken on campus and normally lasted several hours, was reduced to a forty-five minute online test. Senior Victor Fernandez told The Blue and White “I feel like it was a fair thing Collegeboard did for the large amount of students who still wanted to take their AP exams. It also worked out great, although some people had issues submitting their work. Even then, those who had such errors were given another shot at the exam on a certain day in June.”

Courtesy of Guam Department of Education                    

With the mixture of face-to-face and LaunchED students at Apopka High School, it seems like the right time for questions about standardized testing to surface yet again. The Blue and White spoke with Apopka’s testing coordinator, Ms. Pickels, to clear the air. “Any kind of state testing will need to be done on campus due to test security. All district assessments can be done at home.” To reiterate, LaunchED students are going to need to return to campus for state assessments.

On the topic of the on-campus assessments, Victor said that he feels “alright about it for the most part,” and that the only concern he has is that “the amount of students that’ll be going to do those standardized tests will make it harder for the school to maintain the measures they have taken to lower the spread of COVID-19 in schools.” Victor’s concern could quite possibly be shared by other students who are worried about mistakenly bringing the virus into their homes. To alleviate such concerns, Ms. Pickels stated that “LaunchED students and face-to-face students are being tested in different rooms and parts of the campus. All rooms are still being sanitized and cleaned on a daily basis” in order to minimize risks that online students will have to take. However, in speaking to Mrs. Houvouras (who recently proctored the ACT exam), this does not always seem to be the case. She recalled that her testing room consisted of at least one face-to-face student and numerous LaunchED students, so it doesn’t seem that they are completely separated.

While everyone might not agree with having to return to campus in order to take their state assessments, surely it isn’t controversial to appreciate the effort that is being put into the process in order to ensure it is as safe and secure as it can be. Regardless of the testing situation, none can disagree with the fact that this unique year has certainly been filled with a great deal of uncertainty. Dispelling confusion and responding to concerns can only be beneficial in the long run. These things are important in getting everyone on the same page and hopefully helping to return to some sense of normalcy. That may be optimistic at this point, but one can’t help but hope for conditions to one day improve. Sooner rather than later, preferably.