Goodbye Testing Center?

As one of the few in the state of Utah, the Testing Center at UVU has been under financial strain for a number of years. Self-funded on late testing fees and other similar fees, the Testing Center is now facing the possibility of closing its doors for good.

“We are not funded by the school at all,” said Adam Ninow, shift supervisor at the Testing Center. “We are attempting to get funding though the school, but we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen at the moment.”

Since funding for the Testing Center was cut by UVUSA in a committee meeting four years ago, the closing of the Testing Center is now a real possibility shown by a recent increase in late fees and decrease in hours.

According to Colleen Sorensen, Testing Center administrator, it has not been able to cover costs through fees alone for the past two years. This has lead to a late fee increase from $3 to $4 last semester.

However UVUSA has supported the fact that this increase in fees does not affect all students equally. In its decision of how student money is spent, UVUSA felt that since not all students use the testing center, its funding should not be included in the cost of attendance.

As explained by Phil Clegg, Student Life Assistant Dean, cost of attendance at UVU is broken down into two categories: student fees and regular tuition.

Although funding for the Testing Center is paid out of pocket, tests not taken in the Testing Center are included in regular tuition.

According to the 2012-2013 Tuition and Fee Schedule for undergraduate residents, student fees are broken down into nine funded categories.

A breakdown of the rest of student money, as Clegg further explained, is “complicated” for students to find out how much course tests will cost due to discretionary categories under broad or unspecific names.

“You will never see, for instance, a place in the budget that says ‘tests,’” Clegg said, “because that will be under some name like ‘Dean’s discretionary fees.’”

Ninow said until further funding is secured, the Testing Center intends on being proficient in its jobs.

“We’ve got a lot of national tests that we’re trying to take on,” Ninow said. “We’re just trying to prove that we’re useful [to the school] and here to take the loads off the teachers.”

Clegg pointed out that because of the Testing Center, “A lot of the work is taken off teachers.”

However, this is not the only group benefitting from its services.

“Students want to have additional time”, said associate professor of biology Dr. Olga Kopp. “I asked students whether they wanted the test [in class] or at the Testing Center and the majority of the students wanted it at the Testing Center, otherwise I would have [the tests] in class.”

Other areas the testing center has cut back is with issuing scantrons to teachers and charging 50 cents for a paper “blue book.”

“Last semester students were allowed to use regular paper and I was allowed to view their [scantron] answers” Kopp said. “[Now] they pile up all the classes so they don’t have to pay money to somebody to separate all the scantrons, which makes sense because they don’t have the money.”

Though Clegg argued that the policy makes it easier for teachers to grade, given that they don’t have to proctor tests or handle scantrons, Kopp said the cutbacks have lead to even more difficulties for her grading.

Kopp, who allows written explanations on her multiple choice tests, said, “For the first test, some students wrote explanations on the back of the scantron, so I had to go to the Testing Center and they gave me two piles [each a foot tall] and I had to go one by one to find my student’s scantron so I could grade those explanations.”

The Testing Center policy on scratch paper posted on the UVU website states students are required to supply their own scratch paper, only if authorized by the instructor at a maximum of five pages. It does not specificy that the only paper that can be graded will cost 50 cents.

Even with an authorized blue book, Kopp said, “I have had problems this semester in which students used the blue book and they tell the students they are going to throw it in the trash.”

“People there don’t communicate with each other,” Kopp said. “One person makes a decision, doesn’t tell the other people that are in charge of interacting with the students, so it has been a whole nightmare this semester.”

According to Ninow, there are a variety of petitions available for students, which act as case-by-case fee waivers.

“We have a comment box that we review [periodically] and take into consideration when we try to adjust policies,” Ninow said.

According to the Testing Center and student government, there are no current petitions to evoke changes to school testing fee policy by way of large scale student voice.

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