The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Exams test the teachers, too


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Mar. 10, 2017 - 11:35 PM

Winter Break is over and Coweta County students have settled into their school routine once again. The county school calendar is divided into two semesters of 18 weeks each. With one semester down (ended before Christmas), this second semester is about half over. That means there are only about nine more weeks left until summer. Just nine weeks. This doesn’t include Spring Break in April.

And here, at the midpoint of the second semester, testing is not uncommon. No one looks forward to tests – students (because they have to take them) or teachers (because they have to grade them).

Being an English teacher is not easy when it comes to grading. Essays, remember? I used to jokingly say, “I wonder if the more wine I drink while grading these essays if their grades will improve?”

Another hardship on an English teacher during the year and especially at mid-term testing was the copying machine that would break down at the most inopportune time. And it just didn’t break down for an hour. Sometimes it was days.

Somebody had to call the company to send someone out to fix it. And by fix it, I mean that took all day, too. One couldn’t wait to see the taped sign that said, “NOT WORKING!” taken off the top of the machine. By the time it was removed, there was mold on it.

Before the copier, we used the mimeograph machine (often abbreviated to mimeo), and it was a low-cost duplicating machine that worked by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. I loved the smell of that ink running through the machine. Not for long periods of time, though.

I heard one could get high from the smell by the overuse of the machine. I used to jokingly say, “I wonder if I smell more of this purple ink while running off these tests if their grades will improve?”

There was at least one kind of testing that was done in schools that didn’t include grades. It was called an aptitude test.

At the end of the middle school years and before attending high school, the counselors wanted to know what track a student might favor because of their aptitude…think college is in your future? Technical training? This would be helpful to know so the guidance office could help guide the student into the right classes to be successful.

My oldest took his aptitude test near the end of 8th grade. The results mentioned that he was good with his hands. I am going to leave that description alone except to say that he is in a career now doing just that…Information Technology. But this test gave him different choices to think about. It encouraged him to consider being a butcher or an air-conditioner repairman.  

However, the real clincher was what the girl sitting next to him in class received on her test results. What possibly could have been the responses on her test to recommend these two jobs: either a clown or a mime?

(Lee St. John is the pen name for a retired Coweta County teacher.)