School computer problems prompt Harnett student to sound off

Posted May 23, 2016
Updated May 24, 2016

— When Everett Blake's eighth-grade class at Harnett Central Middle School took a test on their computers earlier this year, things didn't go as smoothly as hoped.

"We had to go back through and restart it some times. Some kids had trouble getting into the test," Blake said.

Students will be taking the state's end-of-grade tests online over the next couple of weeks, and the rocky experience worried Blake.

"I didn't feel confident taking the test on computers," he said.

So, Blake appealed to the Harnett County Board of Education, asking that students be allowed to use pencil and paper for the EOGs. He showed the board the results of a classroom survey he and his friends conducted in which a majority of students said they would prefer not to use school computers for the tests.

The board heard him out, but district administrators said there's not much they can can do because state regulations require the tests be done online.

Officials said they believe the problems were related to the specific platform the on which the earlier tests were taken. It is separate from the state's EOG testing platform, they said.

The students are using Chromebooks, and representatives from the school district's technology department said they work well.

Harnett Central Middle Principal Linwood Smith said faculty also will stagger EOG start times to prevent everyone from logging in at once, so he anticipates fewer problems with the test.

Still, Smith said Blake's appearance before the school board was important.

"It gave him an opportunity to be a student leader, which is one of the things we want from any of our students," he said.

Blake said he's glad he took took a stand on the issue.

"It was a really good experience," he said. "Don't be afraid to speak your mind."


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