Administrators call for larger on-campus testing center

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Nestled on the ground floor of the Graduate School of Business Building, the Center for Teaching and Learning’s testing facilities serve thousands of students.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

As the University continues to expand its range of online classes, officials at the Center for Teaching and Learning said they have recognized a need for a larger testing center.

The Center currently operates a testing space in the Graduate School of Business Building, although the space is not considered an official testing center. The space has 23 seats for testing, according to executive director Harrison Keller, and allows students to take exams in a proctored location. Students come to take exams for online courses, take placement exams to test out of courses or receive testing accommodations for a disability.

David Laude, senior vice provost for Enrollment and Curriculum Services, said an increased number of online courses has accordingly increased demand for using the testing facilities. Laude said the government and psychology departments offered a combined total of around 1,000 online courses in the fall and spring this year alone. 

“We absolutely need a substantially larger testing facility,” Laude said. “We’re in the planning stages, but this is something that’s going to have to come.”

Keller said other universities in the U.S. have established testing centers.

“We’re scanning right now for what kind of facilities other universities have,” Keller said. “We’re also looking at what kind of technologies are available.”

The current space where students can take proctored tests relies heavily on old technology, such as scantrons, according to Keller.

“It’s clear that this is a pinch point that needs to be addressed,” Keller said. “As the pace of innovations is accelerating on campus, that puts a different kind of demand on our facilities.”

Laude, who teaches an introductory chemistry course with approximately 500 students each semester, said not every student is able to make the testing course’s time. He said he offers a makeup date for every exam and has generally been able to accommodate each student.

“Because we hold evening exams, there’ll always be lots of conflicts,” Laude said. “[But] there’s almost never any issue with students missing an exam.”

Kelli Bradley, executive director of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), said the number of students registered with SSD has increased from around 1,500 in 2009 to 2,300 this year. Bradley said 80–85 percent of registered students request testing accommodations.

“The more students register, the more students receiving extended time or test accommodations, the more likely there’s going to be the need for this space,” Bradley said.

Erin Gleim, Student Government director of the Students with Disabilities Agency, authored a resolution that supported the construction of a larger testing center. SG voted in support of the Center on Tuesday.

“It’s an expectation that we have [a testing center], and the fact that we don’t is a disservice,” Gleim said.

Over the past five to six years, SSD increased the number of exams they proctored, from 500 tests a semester to 6,000, according to the resolution.

“We’re mostly hoping to raise awareness that this is an issue,” Gleim said. “This is something that benefits everyone.”