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Proctoring Tests at Home

High School and Middle School Courses

TPS requires parents of students in High School and Middle School courses to proctor all major tests. The primary reason for this requirement is to promote student learning, academic readiness, and grades.

In an extensive review of test-taking practices and “habits” among our students, we found that students often take their exams underprepared and using poor test-taking practices. They unnecessarily lose significant points over careless errors that could easily be prevented. A “typical” scenario we find is:

  • Student waits until near the deadline to start the exam. (Exams are often started late at night.)
  • Student under-prepares (counting on a relaxed exam process).
  • Student takes the exam in the same location and conditions as other schoolwork. (For many students, this includes background activity and noise; multitasking with phones, peers, or siblings; numerous distractions; and periodic interruptions.)
  • Student starts the exam and gets to a point where progress slows, and decides to take a break. (Sometimes this break is for the night, and the exam is resumed the next day.)
  • During the break (or perhaps during the actual exam taking), the student perhaps does some “review” that was not done before the exam. (We found that that students from a relaxed exam background often consider this to be a normative approach to taking an exam, mixing the exam studying and the exam taking.)
  • Student completes the exam with minimal time to spare and rushes to submit it (often making mistakes in the process).

These elements may not all be present in every exam taken in every home, but our years of experience and months of dedicated review indicate that most home exams are relaxed and not conducive to best learning, readiness, and grades. Our purpose in requiring exams to be proctored is to productively and effectively involve the parent in: ensuring the student has studied and prepared to the best of his readiness; verifying that the student is alert and ready to complete the test in one undistracted uninterrupted observed sitting; and helping the student to avoid errors from hastiness or carelessness. In broader terms, proctoring exams has these primary benefits:

  • Preparation (higher grades). Our experience is that students who must prepare for a single-sitting proctored test will study more carefully and take the test more thoroughly. They are also more likely to review their test prior to submitting it, and more likely to submit it correctly on time. Learning to take proctored tests is also an essential skill for standardized exams and college success.
  • Accountability. Accountability is an agreement between parties to keep something of importance visibly and easily verifiable. It is part of the framework of an ongoing trust relationship. It is a safeguard against uncaught human error and unverifiable doubts or concerns. The TPS proctoring process assumes the student is trustworthy and well-intended, and provides a safeguard of accountability to certify the process and protect the trustworthy student. Trusting in the student’s integrity, maturity, autonomy, or experience is part of the foundation of the proctor process, not a basis for waiving or modifying the required proctoring process.
  • Credibility. Students take TPS courses because TPS provides the best academic education with full credibility. The TPS name and logo carry this meaning worldwide. One of the many reasons we have this reputation is because we certify accomplishment of high academic standards with verifiable processes and records. We do not just claim “high standards” — we continually prove them with external testing and verifiable accountable processes.

By now it will be evident that “preventing cheating” is not mentioned as one of the primary reasons for or benefits of proctoring in TPS. Our studies have found that what constitutes “cheating” varies among homeschooling families and across cultures, and we leave it to families to set moral definitions. TPS has (and enforces) standards for academic use of sources (including what are allowed and prohibited sources) that require a student to submit only his or her own original work for all assignments and exams. The TPS expectations for original work are are consistent with requirements of U.S. colleges and throughout academia worldwide, and these standards are addressed and enforced through other means in TPS.

Elementary School Courses

Elementary School students need assistance, support, and oversight. If the proctor form and process are used in an Elementary School course, the purpose of the proctor is more oversight and training to encourage and develop good test-taking skills. The role of the proctor is more instruction (teaching the student to take the test carefully and methodically) and support (e.g., helping the student to assemble the test and submit it completely and correctly).

Summary

TPS is committed to giving students the best preparation for college and career. Proctored tests are beneficial and important for accountability and credibility. They contribute to increased learning retention and higher course grades. They prepare students for standardized tests and college tests. They also provide an easy opportunity for busy parents to contribute to and oversee their students’ education. Though TPS requires minimal parent involvement in middle and high school courses, test proctoring is an unwaiverable unmodifiable required point of parental involvement in the process of taking upper level TPS courses in the home, and correctly proctoring the test can be a factor in the final score of the exam.