Manhasset H.S. considers testing changes to alleviate stress

Manhasset H.S. considers testing changes to alleviate stress
Manhasset Schools Superintendent Charles Cardillo

In response to a spike in student and parent complaints, Manhasset School Superintendent Charles Cardillo and Manhasset High School Principal Dean Schlanger are considering changes to the way high school course testing is implemented at the middle and end of each semester.

“Schlanger and I have had extended discussion on this,” Cardillo said. “We should be taking a close look at it and see what it takes. How can we improve on this?”

Currently at the end of each quarter teachers conduct a cumulative subject exam during a designated week of testing. The class schedule during that week is no different than any other, but the school staggers testing to ensure that students do not take more than three tests on a given day. For instance, on even-numbered calendar dates, world language, social studies and science lab classes can give tests. While on odd-numbered calendar dates, math, English and science classes can give tests.

When class periods do not involve tests, classroom instruction continues as normal.

“There’s a high level of stress” for students, Schlanger said. “Juggling both taking exams as well as attending school and getting homework done.”

The high school switched to its current testing schedule five years ago.

“We used to have four days off of school and students would come sit for an exam and leave,” Schlanger said.

“When Superstorm Sandy came [in 2012] we were off a number of days,” he added. “We were looking for ways to garner days back to make up for the loss of instructional time.”

The school opted for the current testing schedule, which allows teachers to administer exams but does not sacrifice full days of instruction.

Cardillo said the occurrence of testing and instruction within the same day hurts special needs students.

“Special education students who need extra time for tests are shortchanged,” he said. “They need to be in the classroom but they’re taking extended time.”

The Manhasset High School Student Senate is conducting a survey of students on what testing changes they would prefer, if any.

Schlanger said he will look at the survey results at the end of the week.

“I will go into it open minded,” he said. “With a desire to dialogue. We’re constantly revising and looking upon our practices to see how we can best meet the needs of students and staff.”

Cardillo said, “The Student Senate can play a substantive role on issues like this.”

Lexi Ridini, the Student Senate’s representative to the Board of Education, said the survey “can show student concerns but also things people liked.”

“We’re trying to get the Student Senate’s voice heard,” she added.

Schlanger said the testing schedule for the remainder of the school year cannot be changed.

The testing schedule for next school year will be determined no later than June, he said.

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