Tiffany Frandsen | News Editor |@tiffany_mf
The Classroom Testing Center at Utah Valley University, which is funded by late fees, is no longer self-sustaining. If not enough students pay the late fees for a particular test, the department will cover the gaps in the funds.
Other limitations have been implanted to ease crowding and budget pressure. One of the new cutbacks is that classes are limited to five tests in the testing center per semester, where previously, they had been unlimited. Since no tests begin or end on Saturdays and it is the least busy day of the week, the use numbers will be watched and a decision will be made about whether or not to eliminate Saturday testing.
“There is really no testing that we give for free. Somebody has got to pay for it somehow,” said Sorensen.
The testing center has been charging departments $2.50 per student per exam to make up any difference. Late fees will continue to be $4.00 for students. The late fees pay for all 60-100 part-time staff, all students, and the seven full-time staffers are paid through the university’s budget.
“Some departments could not sustain the cost, and have decided not to use it,” said Sorensen.
The College of Science and Health is the largest user of the center, making up 50 percent of all tests. Associate Dean Jason Slack says in the College of Science and Health, the departments that currently have the testing center supervise exams will continue to, in the interest of monitoring security.
Because of the extra cost picked up by departments, there has been an increase in both online tests and classroom tests across the campus.
“I encourage everybody to not use the testing center unless there’s some pedagogical reason for using it,” said Janet Colvin, department chair in the communication department.
During the President’s Council meetings, additional free days were suggested – two free days for a three day test, and three free days for a five day test. This idea was nixed, as it would have cost the testing center an additional $65,000. The funding to cover extra free days would have come out of student tuition and added to the crowding in the center.
Two years ago, the testing center administered 400,000 individual tests. To ease crowding, the center cut back to 250,000 exams last year.
“We were bulging at the seams. We were asking for more resources to be able to continue doing what we were doing. We did a significant focus group with the academic side and decided to curtail it a little bit and put some priorities in place as to which type of classes would have priority over others for usage at the center,” said Sorensen.
The option to move the testing center into a larger location had been looked at, but decided against. Instead, President Holland has told the center to not grow unless it is a priority for academic affairs, with accurate data on costs. As the university gets bigger, distance education, hybrid and large classes (classes with more than 100 students) will have priority access.
“We have been told not to grow. We are to sustain at our current volume and level,” said Sorensen.
The location on the fringe of campus benefits new students coming to campus to take Accuplacer tests or to take other third party tests, like the ACT, etc. That way, those test-takers have easier access to the center without having to pay for parking and can find the center easier with its independent street address.
Testing centers aren’t federally or state-mandated on university campuses. The attempt is to make testing more flexible so professors don’t have to schedule tests outside of class-time that might clash with student schedules.
The center is well aware of student attitude toward them. Sorensen says the testing center takes the blame for miscommunications between faculty and the center because “there’s a better relationship between faculty and students than students and the testing center.”
“The testing center gets a bad rap on a regular basis, and we recognize that. We’re constantly having to prove ourselves,” said Sorensen. “Very few are excited. We see the absolute worst human behavior on testing day.”
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf