OPINION: Scantrons don’t measure student capabilities

By Pamela Estrada

With finals at months end, East Los Angeles College should follow the, ‘no Scantron policy,’ implemented by the Mathematics Department.

Every semester, Dr. Nancy Melucci begins her Statistics 1 course by walking in, setting down her materials and turning to the white board to write her name for all to see.

All while she says that unlike any other class, she will not use scantrons for any of her tests through the Statistics 1 course at Los Angeles Harbor College, a sister school to ELAC. Melucci says that scantrons take away from thinking and working hard at the task at hand.

She said she does not know why scantron are even permitted. As she speaks, snarls and grunts fill the room from corner to corner.

Whether a professor gives an explanation or not, mathematics professors at ELAC are not permitted to use Scantrons.

The head of the Mathematics Department Joseph Kazimir said “There is a no Scantron policy in the math department. We agree with her policy.”

Kazimir said that the exception to the rule is one pre-algebra course. “A scantron does not allow for the professor to see where the student needs help and what the student already understands,” Kazimir said.

For example, take a problem on a test worth five or 10 points that asks students the average number of points per game earned in a league. Team A: 14 points and 9 games, Team B: 16 points and 8 games, Team C: 14 points and 9 games, and Team D: 16 points and 8 games.

Working out the problem, the professor can see if the math is accurate. If all the steps are there, then the student understands. The professor has done her/his part to teach the student.

If the student shows part of the steps wrong, the professor can give partial credit for the work that was done correctly.

This, in addition, will allow the student to take the exam to a tutoring center to get help for the section they did not understand.

“I cannot express how much I’ve learned,” said David Martinez, a first-year ELAC student. Martinez has mostly used the scantron in psychology and said that it is too easy and he prefers to be challenged.

This pass or fail grading leaves no room for partial credit, which would otherwise show the student’s thought process.

Having to bubble in an answer can simply mean that maybe the student had a lucky guess.

Short answers and essays allow for explanation of a student’s understanding.

To connect what has been learned and give meaning, in the student’s own words, may provide a better insight of what has been retained through the semester.

There are six different types of fill-in-the-bubble scantrons sold at the Student Center.

They allow for the students to use the elimination process, or the selection of C as the best guess, which gives no sign of how the student got there.

Let us raise the academic bar.

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