Testing is scary enough with grades potentially impacting future opportunities, and the CASA testing procedures make it even more scary and intimidating than it needs to be.
CASA, short for Center for Academic Support and Assessment, testing centers have been a part of the University of Houston campus for 17 years. Students of every major and classification will have to face a testing center at some point during their time at UH.
The testing centers set up around campus are meant to discourage students from cheating. The University has been doing a fantastic job of that since the first CASA testing center location opened in 2002, though the first full-scale location wasn’t opened until 2004 in Garrison Gym.
“CASA has not faced any cheating scandals in its 15 years of operation,” said Associate Provost for Education Innovation and Technology Dr. Jeff Morgan.
Morgan was the brains behind the initial design of the original CASA Garrison Gym center. His design of the system has led the other two testing center sites, Classroom and Business Building and Agnes Arnold Hall, to become what they are today.
The CASA testing centers have set up a few protections against cheating to help keep things running smoothly.
In order to enter the testing area, you must have a valid Cougar Card as well as a registered fingerprint to prevent identity fraud. You aren’t allowed to bring in any materials that a testing coordinator does not give you, with the exception of a pencil. There are also multiple proctors that survey the test area to catch any wayward cheaters.
Though these precautions do well at their job of eliminating cheating opportunities, they also make the testing environment a lot more intimidating. Being jammed in a tight cubicle with a proctor constantly watching can be nerve-racking.
With the feeling of being watched ebbing at the back of your brain, you start to lose focus on your test. Words start to blur into one another, information clouds together. Next thing you know, you’re not even sure the test is in English anymore.
Along with that, CASA testing centers come with this sense of formality. The entire process can make a test feel like it will make or break your grade for a class. For those with extreme cases of test anxiety, this can cause them to belittle themselves and become convinced there is no way they will pass the test. With a mindset like that, things sure aren’t going to look very good.
Yes, the saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but there is something broken within CASA testing centers. With such a rigid focus on preventing cheating, those at the testing centers don’t look at the effects the centers have on anxiety.
There should be another option for students with test anxiety. A solution may lie in the Center for Student DisABILITIES, but they were unavailable for comment.
UH has done an amazing job keeping itself from the turmoil of a mass cheating scandal, but it’s at the cost of student sanity. If there is another testing center built in the future, considering options for nervous test takers could be transformative.
Opinion writer Zaineb Davis is an English freshman and can be reached at [email protected]