Top of page
Skip to main content
Someday is Today: Learn about Pima’s remote learning options and access virtual services.

Pima's Testing and Assessment Center Prioritizes Students and Safety During COVID-19

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Pima’s Testing and Placement Centers were seeing about 54,000 students annually at the College’s five testing locations for proctored placement tests needed for admission, including GED exams and academic and certification exams.

“It was all in-person. We weren’t doing any sort of virtual proctoring or any form of virtual placement,” said Placement Coach Marcos Ameneiros. “We didn’t have a way to get in students without placement tests.” 

Going Virtual

“As with much of the world, suddenly going to a virtual environment was a shock and we had to think fast,” said Chelsea James, director of College Testing and Placement. “But the Testing and Placement Team is first-rate, so we had daily virtual meetings at first to figure out how we could continue to serve students in the absence of in-person services. Faculty leadership was quick to approve PimaEdReady, an academic diagnostic, and expand Multiple Measures for class placement. We began training staff to proctor virtually.”

Most of these changes will stay in place to benefit students after the pandemic is over.

Testing center worker stands in front of door with mask
Testing and Placement Center has strong safety measures to keep everyone healthy

“Everything was great from the time I got there. Someone was in the front and guided me to the area. It was clean. There were separately labeled containers for clean and used pens. It was great. I felt very safe,” said Pima student Lizbeth Arrington. “I’m just glad I was able to get it done and I didn’t have to wait. You guys are doing a great job.”

Testing in the Age of COVID-19

Under Multiple Measures, students consult with placement coaches for placement into college math, reading and writing courses based on their high school transcripts (including ACT or SAT scores) if they’ve graduated from high school or completed a GED in the last five years. If it’s been longer than five years or if they want to take the test to place in a more advanced class, they can take the unproctored PimaEdReady online.

Summer and fall data shows that the new placement measures are proving to be good predictors of student success in classes, plus students are enjoying the 1-1 guidance directly from knowledgeable placement coaches, James said.

“We’re trying to change the culture of how we evaluate class placements,” Ameneiros said.

The in-person Testing and Placement Centers are now set up primarily to proctor essential certification exams for workforce and GED tests, including paramedics, K-12 teacher, dental assisting, and IT certifications, as well as serving those with accommodations and access issues, James said. Testing staff returned to the campuses in August with new safety measures in place, including requiring masks, constant sanitizing of surfaces, staggered staffing (only two at a time in the center), and leaving at least six feet between test-takers. Students and staff overwhelmingly report feeling safe in the environment and that these are important essential services students and the community need access to.

Pima student Lizbeth Arrington tooka virtual reading placement test at home this year and an in-person proctored CLEP exam at the Downtown Campus earlier this year, allowing her to keep moving forward in her academic journey.

“Everything was great from the time I got there. Someone was in the front and guided me to the area. It was clean. There were separately labeled containers for clean and used pens. It was great. I felt very safe,” she said. “I’m just glad I was able to get it done and I didn’t have to wait. You guys are doing a great job.”

Placement at Pima

Pima has provided nearly 15,000 virtual placement and virtual academic exams for the 2020-21 school year.

The Downtown Campus Testing Center is now serving about 300 students and community members per month in-person with COVID-19 safety protocols. The plan is to expand capacity to other campuses in the fall semester. Stay up-to-date on Pima's plans for summer and fall on our new FAQ page

Back to main content Back to top