by Kara Thompson ’20 and Andrew Waterfield ’20
For the first time at Sherwood, a majority of AP testing will be taken in the Ertzman theatre this May. According to Principal Eric Minus, the plan for the future is to move most standardized testing to the auditorium, including state tests such as AP, Accuplacer, PSAT, and SAT.
“During assessment season, it is important that we organize as much as possible in a way that alleviates major disruption to the educational program,” said Minus. “Using a large venue such as our auditorium allows us to plan for minimal disruptions to the rest of the school while still providing a place conducive for students to comfortably take their AP exam.” According to Minus, 16 other MCPS high schools also test in their auditoriums.
Last spring, when MISA testing was held in the Ertzman, wobbly lap desks were provided for the students. This year, Minus contacted a company that modified existing desks to better fit the new auditorium seats. In addition to the desks, the light bulbs in the auditorium have been replaced so they aren’t too dim during testing, and clip-on lights have been ordered to come with the desks, for students to have direct lighting.
“Last year when it was proposed that we look at using the Ertzman for testing, I rejected the proposal because I felt the conditions were not optimal for students,” said Minus. “For me to even consider this change in our practice, it was important that we ensured that we would be comfortable enough to support the idea of moving our assessments to the Ertzman.”
AP Government teacher Michale King thinks AP students should have the chance to practice testing in the new locations. “I believe people should practice like they are performing and perform like practice. Students should be used to the desks and lighting so when they have their exams they are ready for success and not focused on things that are new and different.”
AP Literature teacher Patty Jasnow understands that finding a place for so many students to test is a challenge for the school, and the Ertzman is a more favorable location than somewhere off campus, such as was the case several years ago.
Students have had a less favorable reaction to the news. “I wouldn’t test there again, unless there was an alternative to holding up the desks,” said senior Connor Wolk, who was among the students who took the MISA in the Ertzman last year, and he isn’t alone in his distaste for testing there. Senior Brandon Sussal, who tested there last year as well, stated the testing atmosphere is “distracting with little to no privacy.”
Several classes of AP Literature were surveyed on the upcoming change, and an overwhelming majority of them were frustrated by this change. “This just seems like a waste of money to me. We weren’t strapped for space for AP testing,” said senior Elizabeth Manning. “This was not a good move and it was poorly expressed to the students taking the classes,” added senior Lindsey Morris.
AP Economics teacher Rebecca Taylor encouraged her students to talk to administration with any questions, and feels confident that administration will soon share details of how testing will happen with the staff and students. “Some of my students were worried about testing in the Ertzman,” explained Taylor. “They had many questions that I didn’t know how to answer so I suggested students direct their questions to our administrative team.”
Despite these concerns, Minus is confident that students will continue to excel in spite of the location change. “Students should be assured that as our ACHIEVEMENT Pillar of Excellence is important to me, I would never put them in a position to be academically unsuccessful,” explained Minus. “My goal is to create an environment for students that I feel would be acceptable for my own children. I am confident they will do well.”