Tests revamped at Woodland as students, educators learn to adapt

Woodland Regional High School students working in Environmental Science class. Jessica D’Aniello Republican-American

By Jessica D’Aniello Citizen’s News

BEACON FALLS — Some students at Woodland Regional High School found their midterm exams to be nothing like a traditional test.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, teachers made major changes in the way they teach their students and that has included how they give tests — which has students recording podcasts, giving presentations and creating video projects.

Principal Kurt Ogren and the department heads conducted multiple meetings to decide what midterms were going to look like during COVID.

“This group decided collectively to make a shift away from traditional mid-term exams due to COVID after receiving feedback from our teachers,” Ogren said.

The humanities departments — English, history and world language — have been trying to make midterms more collaborative for years.

Loren Luddy, the World Language Department head, thinks the pandemic has given her department an extra push to do what they have already been trying.

“With the overall goals for our kids to be communicators, critical thinkers, and contributors, the shift away from traditional Scantron exams had already begun,” Luddy said.

Junior Liana Demirs said she prefers the alternative testing.

“I loved having more projects along with testing because I got to use my creative side while still learning the material,” Demirs said.

Some teachers at Woodland may still give exams that look like traditional tests, but questions will include more critical thinking or real world issues.

Courtney Ambrose, the Social Studies Department head, asked her students to create a video project for their psychology class midterm.

“If I asked students to do a podcast, that is authentic because that’s something that you might be asked to do in the real world,” Ambrose said.

Luddy and Ambrose believe humanities teachers at Woodland will continue to increase project-based testing in the future.

And while the humanities departments support project based midterms, the science departments continue to keep the traditional testing.

Jill Blasi, the Science Department head, believes because there are multiple opportunities for students to gain collaboration experience in labs or experiments throughout the year a traditional midterm test is appropriate.

Although the science department won’t lean toward project based testing, there are real world applications within the midterms.

“I don’t believe science teachers will divert away from traditional testing but there is a push toward critical thinking through scenario and/or experiment based questions,” Blasi said.