by Zoe Alsfine
Over the past year, due to COVID-19, standardized testing and the testing processes at The Leffell School both changed. In early January, the College Board decided to permanently terminate SAT subject tests and the optional essay portion of the SAT, effective immediately. Within the Leffell School community, the test coordinator role transitioned from grade-level dean Joel Davidson to computer science teacher/technology specialist William Jamieson. The major changes to testing, along with new COVID-19 related protocols, have significantly affected testing at TLS.
Davidson, who previously held the position of test coordinator, explained that the role entails administering the ACT, Pre-ACT, SAT, PSAT and SAT subject tests.
“We are given a roster of students who sign up for different tests and we make sure that the test centers are open on the days that we offer it, that proctors are available and that all of the information is logged in,” Davidson said.
Nevertheless, the pandemic made the school’s usual testing methods impossible.
“Due to COVID we did not know what was going to happen, especially last spring when the world shut down,” Davidson said. “Most test centers just kept on canceling as test dates got closer, and we also needed to cancel.”
During the summer, when cases began to decline, Davidson worked to meet the COVID-19 related restrictions set by the CDC and the New York State Department of Health for the school to reopen as a test center. These changes included switching testing from classrooms to more spacious areas like the HSBK, MSBK and the media center.
In January, Davidson shifted the new system and the other responsibilities of test coordinator to Jamieson.
“I did a lot of research,” Jamieson said. “I met with the college counseling team. Everyone has been really great in teaching me what I need to know to facilitate these exams.”
Even with the challenging circumstances in which Jamieson took on the position, he is working around the difficulties and even embracing some of the new COVID-19 related effects.
“The positives of the removal of SAT essays and subject tests for me is that I can make spacing more communal,” Jamieson said.
As test coordinator, Jamieson no longer needs to separate students depending on whether or not they are taking the essay portion of the SAT or subject tests.
“I believe that students will find registration much more streamlined,” Jamieson said. “The main effect of Covid-19 is that there are fewer proctors and testing sites, each with fewer seats. They are filling up faster because people fear that they will all shut down again, so students are registering far in advance.”
Jamieson welcomes any student with registration-related questions to reach out to him and hopes to have a successful year of testing at TLS even with the COVID-19 setbacks.
“With this job I am looking forward to designing a system that works well,” Jamieson said. “Taking the system that I inherited and making a few tweaks and changes to make this process as easy as possible.”