What Students Are Saying About Online Test Proctoring, Favorite Books and Driving Tests

What Students Are Saying About Online Test Proctoring, Favorite Books and Driving Tests

For this week’s roundup of student comments on our writing prompts, we asked teenagers to decide if students should be monitored during online tests, to share what books assigned by teachers became their favorites, and to weigh in on whether or not teenagers should be allowed to drive without passing a road test.

We’d like to give a warm welcome to the new students who joined the conversation this week from Cathedral City, Calif., and Rosmini High School.

Please note: Student comments have been lightly edited for length, but otherwise appear as they were originally submitted.

Since schools went virtual this spring, students have been taking tests online from their homes. To prevent widespread cheating, schools have imposed digital monitoring.

We asked students to reflect on the ethics and efficacy of surveillance. While a few defended monitoring, most opposed the practice as invasive and, ultimately, ineffective. The consensus: If students want to cheat, they will cheat. Schools would be wiser to use the opportunity to reform tests — or eliminate them entirely.

As a student, I would feel uncomfortable if I were to be closely monitored on an online test through video. I already feel uncomfortable when a teacher looms over my desk for in-person tests as it makes me feel pressured. If schools really want to push for online monitoring during testing it should at least be screen monitoring like how our school does it with GoGuardian. The idea of someone just closely watching me makes me feel insecure, and I wouldn’t give my best performance on a test. I wouldn’t want my grade to get bumped down just because I didn’t feel comfortable rather than not studying as much.

Bianca Anne Lee, SHS

In my opinion, watching students over a video to make sure they’re not going to cheat is pointless and uncomfortable. Students who plan on cheating will still cheat no matter what. When we were in a classroom setting, students still cheated on tests, and nothing could really stop it. It will be uncomfortable for most students knowing that their teacher is watching them from their camera, and it will result in the student not being able to perform at their best potential.

Ciara Bullington, New York

I think it is appropriate for students to be monitored during tests. I have had to take a few math tests during quarantine and it is very tempting to look up answers or shortcuts. Taking a test at home on a computer makes it so easy to cheat, the entire internet is at your fingertips. Schools should have to right to proctor students. If they were actually in school, teachers would be able to see what they were doing. Even though we’re at home, tests should still be treated like tests. You wouldn’t have privacy if you were in school, so why should students suddenly have privacy when they’re taking the same test at home?

Cyrus Fisher, J. R. Masterman

If we use systems that allow students to cheat just because we think that it hurts their privacy or is highly “invasive,” we are ultimately allowing some students to gain an unfair advantage over the others, that’s when the real invasion begins, corruption takes place and ethics are ignored. In the last few years in high school, I learned there are no limits to the creativity of teenagers in my school when it comes to cheating. Of course, there is a small minority that does not cheat, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cheaters. The biggest problem with allowing cheating is when students don’t get caught they keep cheating, it becomes a habit. They might survive this in high school but eventually, they will get caught as the exam security increases with the higher levels of education and the consequences will be way harsher on the higher levels.

Elena, Istanbul

While it makes sense that schools would want to prevent cheating on tests during online school, I believe that the way they are trying to do it is an invasion of privacy and does not really work as well as schools had hoped. Monitoring software that flag when someone appears to be cheating do not fully work, and they may bring up false flags that might cause the student to be given an automatic zero for cheating. It also breaks students’ privacy. Unlike in school where students can be watched closely by a teacher, online monitoring will watch the student in the privacy of their own home. Students are required to take tests, so they are unable to deny taking the tests to protect their privacy without risking a failing grade.

Michelle, Florida

I think that students should be trusted not to cheat during online tests. Personally I think it’s wrong to cheat on tests but some kids think otherwise obviously. Teachers can’t stop kids from cheating, especially on online work, and if teachers try, it’s going to lead to privacy invasion. For example, monitoring a student’s screen. It is definitely an invasion of privacy to monitor a student’s screen while they are taking a test or when they are doing anything for online school. It’s their personal computer most of the time which means it has personal things on it. If every student were using a school chromebook that would be different, but they aren’t.

Matt Dougherty, J. R. Masterman

To be honest I don’t think there should be surveillance and proctoring. Most people want to better themselves and learn something so, therefore, won’t cheat. I do feel like someone watching me online will make me feel a little uncomfortable and violate somewhat of my privacy and might affect me during a test.

Jaxon, Lihue, HI 96766

I am a proponent of privacy, and I do believe that excessive monitoring is a violation of our right to privacy. However, I do believe that the test itself can be modified to minimize the necessity of surveillance. Yes, I have taken many (Google Form) tests since the lockdown, and the main tests that I have taken are the AP tests that CollegeBoard provides. And no, I am not tempted to look at answers online due to an honor code for most of our tests, or otherwise our tests would be open note and open internet. Having much experience with the temptation of many students to do whatever they can for a decent grade, I won’t necessarily trust everyone to complete tests without cheating. But I do believe that teachers can easily mitigate this problem by making their tests timed, open note, incorporating plagiarism checks.

Isabel Li, CA

I took an online AP test, and to prevent cheating they shortened the testing period and made them free response. The short time forced you to not scramble through the notes and instead focus on the question and the free response helped more accurately gauge people’s understanding. These are much better alternatives than to things like video monitoring. It doesn’t feel right or ethical in the first place to have a video of a student in their home; it feels very invasive … The current restrictions that are in place with the AP tests are the right way to go: the reduced time not only reduces cheating opportunities but the stress of it as a whole.

Jake W, Cary NC

At my high school, remote learning does not require tests for any classes. In my opinion, I think taking tests does not show one’s knowledge and what they have learned over time. It is best for teachers to give work that can show the student’s level of understanding and knowledge intake. Teachers are also the best at knowing what is plagiarized or copy. If tests are given out, then students will obviously use the internet and their friends to get the best grade possible. The stress during these times will only increase with tests. The need to excel will cause students to cheat, especially during these times. By eliminating tests. this will increase the level of integrity with all work that is given out. Students should be trusted to a degree, but by eliminating the possibility then it will be better for everyone.

Marisa Silk, Norwood High School, Norwood, MA

So we asked teenagers to tell us about the books they had to read for school that became favorites. They told us about stories that helped them understand themselves, transported them around the globe and challenged them to think about the world differently.

The best book I’ve ever read would be “The Catcher in the Rye,” mainly because of the main character, Holden. What I found interesting about Holden was his distant personality. Holden reminded me a lot of myself, particularly when he see’s the world for its fake and ludicrous fashion. When I read this book, I was engulfed by Holden’s intrinsic passion for fixing the world and in turn, learned a lot about myself.

Solaiman C, Ledyard High School

It was 10th grade, end of the year, none one wanted to be in school anymore and so half the class didn’t read it, but I did, and I cried when I finished it. “The Elephant Man” was beautiful to me, because the book was filled with flawed, selfish, and questionable characters, while the only difference between the good and the bad characters was their ability to empathize. The ending as well, it gave me catharsis, which happens very rarely in my life. I always felt like our English class was not a class that used books to teach us literature techniques, but a class that used books to make us better human beings. Our teacher gave us this book to teach us empathy, that everyone is flawed, and that only empathy separates the good and flawed from the bad and flawed. I miss my 10th grade English teacher.

Luca James Cassidy, New Rochelle

The best book I ever read for school was “Neurosis and Human Growth” by Karen Horney. Despite its somewhat dull name, this book had a large impact on me. Earlier in the year, I had shown my teacher a monologue I had written while at camp talking about feeling inadequate. He remarked to me, at the time, that he thought I would enjoy Horney’s book. The book itself lays out Horney’s psychoanalytical views on human development. What I found in it was a perfect description of how I felt. At the time, I was going through the college process and was overwhelmed with a feeling that, when compared to all the other applicants who seemed to have done so much more than me, I had a snowball’s chance in hell of ever going to college. Horney instead offered a refreshing optimism, talking about how we could find happiness through self reflection and coming to terms with who we are. I remember, after class one day, thanking my teacher for having us read the book. It was because of him that I was able to pull myself out of the dangerous spiral of inadequacy and come to accept myself. It is the power of a great English teachers to guide students to not just understand the books they read, but to truly understand them and how they stories from the books can seep into our lives and improve them for the better.

Noah, Riverdale Country School

One of my favorite books is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, I read this book during my childhood and I read it again about a year ago. What I liked most about this book is the simple way in which it teaches such important life lessons as love, friendship, and responsibility. This book taught me how important it is to know people for what they are and not for what they have and to value the things that really matter in life. Another thing I learned is that difficult situations are part of our growth and that every mistake is learned.


I loved the novel “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” because it was a story of survival. Left to her own devises, the main character had to survive on her own, searching for food by her lonesome and making friends with animals who would protect her, where she could. She kept hoping that her family would come back for her but they never did. Eventually she left the island with her dog and a few sailors who came to the island. Being forced to survive on her own she became strong and self sufficient. It made me happy to see someone thrive through hardships even though many things were against her. To still have hope in a situation like the one she was in makes me persevere. My problems pale in comparison with hers, so I am compelled to do better.

Qyurcy Markes, Brooklyn New York

The best book I have read is called Hatchet. I liked it because it was about a man who was stranded in the middle of nowhere. He learns to survive in a forest type place, and the only tool that he has is a Hatchet. I like this because I always wanted to survive in the wilderness with just a single tool or maybe more. I always loved the wilderness, but due to the Corona virus pandemic that has dulled a lot, and I lost track of that love.

Kyle Pryce, New York

The best book, and the one that I still remember and make comments about is “Nacho Lee.” I am from Ecuador, In South America, and Nacho Lee was the only text book we used to have in school. It has all what was needed to learn and improve your Spanish. When I was in lower school, teachers would prepare at home their math, science, art, an other subjects’ lessons. But the Spanish subject was thought using this great book. It was full of funny drawings and great stories. It was a pleasure to read, or just to look at. Me and my friends would spend hours at home just going thru it over and over. It is a book that will stay in my heart forever.

Esther-LB, YC-CLIP

The best book that I have ever read for school has to be “I am Malala.” The book taught me so much of a life from the other side of the world. I felt like I was in her shoes as I was scrolling through the pages. I was able to imagine everything and feel the pain that she went through. I could see how the people there were being treated, how life was. “ I am Malala” was by far my most favorite book to read for school. I got a chance to live the life of a young girl in Pakistan, whose life changed after a shot to the head, point blank.

Paul, J.R Masterman

The best book (actually a play) I’ve ever read for school is “An Octoroon” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. My drama literature teacher assigned it to us as the first play of the semester, and it immediately told me that the world of contemporary theatre was home. The play is a deconstruction of an old confederate play written in 1859, but retold by a black playwright with the implementation of race bending the roles, so a black man is in white face, a white man is in red face, and so on. From the get go the goal of the play is to make the audience uncomfortable and make them get over their own ego driven notion that they aren’t racist, because everyone is always a little bit racist, it’s inherent. For that exact reason, I was smitten. It challenges all the previous conventions of regular theatre and what is deemed “politically correct” in order to broaden the perspective of the viewer.

Aidan D. Roche, Maury High School – Norfolk, VA

A good book that I’ve ever had to read for school was the two graphic novels Maus and Maus 2. I thought it was interesting since the author actually took the time to ask his deranged father who was a ww2 and holocaust survivor, his accounts of being in one of the concentration camps. The book is considered very controversial since it talks about ww2 and the discrimination against Jewish people, along with some Polish citizens collaborating with the Nazis. There are some harsh language that is in the novel and it was never meant for a young audience.

Steph Cueva, King Of Prussia, PA

“The Color Purple” was and still is an amazing story about sisterhood, sexuality, and finding your voice. It is a certified banned book by the ALA, which is all the more reason to read it. And after you have read the book, the Spielberg-directed movie is also phenomenal. And if you are not convinced to read this yet, both the book and movie won prestigious awards.

Cheryl Yee, San Francisco, CA

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. This book is centered in Afghanistan and showcases a rich young boy and his poor best friend as they go through life making choices that go on to define their whole existence. This book depicts family, friendship, hardship, and really shows how our choices stay with us for our whole lives. It shows the crime of rape and the even worst crime of watching a crime and doing nothing to stop it. This book brought about emotions too, but it also introduced me to an aspect of life that not a lot of people talk about. The unfair, messed up, and blurry part. To me, books that make us uncomfortable are the best kind.

Shivani Patel, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

Last month, Georgia waived its road-test requirement for most drivers in an effort to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. In early May, the state said it had issued driver’s licenses to thousands of teenagers without one.

In our Picture Prompt “Teenage Drivers” we asked students what they thought of the decision. “When I first heard this, I thought it was a joke,” wrote Riley S. from Brooklyn. Here’s what else they had to say:

When first reading this article I was very concerned. They can’t let untested children on the roads! But as I read on it started to make more sense to me; these 15 year olds have driven 50+ hours in the last year and every moment of that year spent driving was next to one of their parents. So, they should be fine. I have my license and I can definitely confirm that the driving test is somewhat pointless. The only requirement is basically to not break the law in a five minute test drive. So, I guess the main fuel under this “catastrophic” fire is jealousy. It’s the other 48 states full of 15 years olds calling it unfair that makes this such a big deal.

Nathan Hackney, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

I think that giving teenagers their license in this pandemic is good and bad at the same time. On the good side they can run errands for their parents like going to the store but on the bad side they can go hang out with friends, go partying which consists of many people not being 6 feet apart from each other. The teenagers should have taken the test because many people’s lives are in danger and theirs too.

Davina Persaud, Richmond Hill Highschool

This issue is conflicting. On one hand, they’re letting them get licenses based on the honor system. Even though you need parental consent to receive the license, I definitely know some parents who would give their signature even without their child doing all the requirements. On the other hand, during this quarantine, it can become a burden on families who depend on having another driver in the house, especially if someone gets sick. Also, the teens have to have their permits for a certain amount of time before they can get their licenses online, so it’s quite likely that they have adequate driving experience.

Katie Vogel, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL

Georgia removing road-test requirements is definitely a surprising decision, and the response of worry is definitely warranted in a case like this, but it may not be as bad as it seems. The only problem is that if teens who had their permits lied about hours that they had been driving don’t have to take a test, it is much more likely to cause a problem while they’re on the road later on … For those of us that do have the experience that we need in order to get licenses, this decision does not hurt anyone, because we should know how to drive at the point that we would be doing our driving tests.

Gabriel Powers, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

When I heard this I thought it was a joke. I think it’s incredibly dangerous and not smart to give kids licenses without proper testing. Testing is very important because it is how they make the roads as safe as possible. Giving out licenses right now is dangerous anyways because it will make teenagers excited and encourage them to get together. This would put many people at risk. In addition, the new drivers could be putting people in serious harm because some might not know what they’re doing at all. During this time, we should all be staying home and being as safe as possible. Not going out and driving when you don’t know what you’re doing and putting everyone around you in danger. Overall, I don’t think it was a smart decision and Georgia needs to fix their mistake.

Riley S, Brooklyn, NY

I agree with the claim labeling this as catastrophic, many teens simply need extra practice behind the wheel. Due to COVID-19 the rise of anxiety among teens is growing and putting a stressed out teen behind the wheel is very dangerous. Personally I am planning on getting my learner’s permit the next year in school. Will I get my license? No my brain and my senses will need extra practice

Christopher, Cathedral City, CA

It is dangerous to give so many teenagers their driving licenses without having them take a driving test because it may result in people getting hurt. Some of these teenagers might be ready to drive and they would have passed the test anyway, but some might have failed the test and are now allowed to drive. The people who would have failed the test are putting the rest of their community in danger when they drive because they might not be ready to have a license.

Olive E., Brooklyn

I think that it’s a bit risky because teenagers can make more car accidents because they are not fully know how to drive safely. I personally don’t have driving license because I’m too young. I think that it is important to pass the passing the road test because it can teach you how to pass the road without being hurt or cause car accidents.

Koral, Lashon Academy, Los Angeles

I think that Georgia has made a very risky move. Already, there are so many car accidents involving young adults. Not having to take a road test will definitely not improve car accident statistics — I think that actually, there is a greater risk of having a car accident if you do not take the road test. While I don’t drive myself, I know that is important to know how to handle a car.

MC, J.R Masterman

I think that Georgia has taken a huge risk waiving its road-test requirement. Although “the state said it had issued driver’s licenses to thousands of teenagers without one,” it still may not be a good idea in the terms of safety. Many teenagers need the road-test in order to fully feel comfortable being on the road because when they pass, they are given confirmation that they can handle themselves out on the road.

Gabe Breece, Upper Merion High School, Pennsylvania

Although “desperate times call for desperate measures,” I don’t think this was the best decision for Georgia to make because it could be not only putting all of these teens in danger, but everyone else on the roads.

Yasmine, Long Island NY

In Oregon, where I’m from, you can legally drive with a driver’s permit with a licensed legal adult in the car at 15. I will be 15 in 4 months, which scares me. I’ve practiced driving around before in empty parking lots and I can’t even have music on in the car I’m so scared. I would be too afraid to drive around without knowing I had passed the road test. I’ve looked over the permit test before, but one thing I’ve learned from driving around for practice is that a written permit test is very different from actually driving and that a road test is the most crucial part of a driver’s test, for a permit and especially a license. A global pandemic should be a reason to postpone giving teens their licenses because the road test is a crucial part of getting your license.

Isabel B., Brooklyn

Honestly, it depends on if the teen understands the rules of the road, if they have a significant amount of driving practice and if they would be qualified to have their driver’s license if they took the exam. As someone who went through the complete process to receive my driver’s license, I would say it is important to pass the road test because it demonstrates that you have successfully connected what you learned from the rules of the road lessons to the physical driving portion. In my opinion, the road test was important because it verified that I am capable of driving.

Nancy Manuel, Chicago