The state's move to test high school students electronically and add additional tests created a need for an additional computer lab at Minden High School.
The lab will cost the district $51,645.
"When we looked at trying to test students on a computer, with the average test lasting an hour and 15 minutes – we found we did not have enough computers at Minden High," said Morris Busby, Secondary Supervisor for Webster Parish Schools. "I asked principals to discuss if there are additional needs for computer availability with their counselors at their campus. Mrs. (Robin) Tucker, (Minden High School Principal) emailed me back and asked to discuss the situation at her campus.We found there was no way mathematically to test that many kids with the computer lab they had."
Minden High School had two complete computer labs but will now have a third.
"With the increased number of students that we have to test at one time, in addition to the fact that the state shortened the testing window by a complete week this year, there was not enough time on the calendar to get all of the students tested that we are required," Tucker said. "By adding this lab, we will be able to meet the students' testing needs as well as have additional computers during non-testing times for teachers to work on assessments in similar formats (for practice) in preparation for the next phase of testing."
Busby agreed with Tucker's assessment, saying not only was an additional lab necessary but also more bandwidth.
"We are now having to test more and more students with End of Course testing and ACT testing," Busby said. "On top of all that, the social studies test relies heavily on graphics and videos which eats up bandwidth.
"We didn't have enough bandwidth with our service from Nexus, so the district had to buy additional bandwidth to accommodate the testing," he continued. "We were already telling all the elementary schools and anyone not testing, they could not access the internet, because we needed to reserve as much bandwidth as possible for testing."
When calculating the need for additional computers at high school campuses in Webster Parish, the number of tests were counted, rather than the number of students.
"That is because a student may take more than one test during test week," Busby said. "Most take two but there are also students who retest and may take more than two."
Doyline High School will administer approximately 194 End Of Course tests; Lakeside High School will administer approximately 456 tests, while North Webster High School will administer approximately 846 tests.
"At these schools, there was not an immediate need for additional accommodations like there was at Minden High, which will have about 1,400 tests to administer," Busby said.
Tests taken at the high school level include the Explore exam, a pre-ACT test taken by 9th graders; the PLAN exam, also a pre-ACT test that is taken by 10th graders; and ACT exam which is taken by all 11th graders.
Along with these tests, students must take the End of Course test in six subject areas: Algebra I, Geometry, English II, English III, Biology and American History.