Sooooo as I’ve mentioned, this term Grade 6 read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and most people were really into it. To wrap up our unit, I had an exam that integrated parts of the book into the mandated term exams - part 1: continuous writing and part 2: reading and directed writing. I came back from this ICT training and printed it out, went to the office and was immediately told to go staple my exams. As usual, being perpetually uninformed about everything, I stood there with my exam in hand and a puzzled look on my face, since I had not made copies yet. What??? Well, apparently I had to use the cluster exam.
Aside: In Namibia, schools from the same area sometimes get together and make plans for subjects. The goal is to work with other teachers of the same subject in coming up with a solid year plan. This works better in some regions than others – in Luderitz, for who knows what reason, our cluster was prohibited from meeting and planning together this year. Again, for some unknown reason, this somehow did not prevent cluster-designated exams. WHAT? Why is one person from these three schools writing an exam for English/Science/Math/etc? Especially if we didn’t lesson plan together, this does not accurately test what the kids learned, and how are you supposed to tell the kids to study for an exam that you didn’t yourself write or even see!?!?! Ay tog.
Back to me in the school setting. I proceed to plead with my principal to be able to use my exam. I told my kids that the exam was on the book we’ve been reading, this is ruining my credibility with them – nope not going to work. Then I look at this exam. Not only did whoever write this blatantly take one of the questions from the exam not even a year ago, but it is horribly written – I mean complete carelessness, not to mention the blandest of prompts. I go back to my principal, and continue to argue that this is not good, I want to use my exam!!!! I then tell him its poorly written – I am told that is a matter of opinion.
By the next day, flames are almost shooting out of my head after I read through this exam again. I went to each of the four sections of Grade 6 and apologized to them that they had to take this exam, and had to explain some of the questions that just didn’t make sense. I then told them to treat the questions like they treat my daily warm-ups, which involve correcting grammar in sentences. I told them to correct the improper prompts so I could see what grammar they learned, and that I would find another way for them to take my exams. As I walked out of the door to let them write these exams, one of my learners pulled me aside and pointed out one of the numerous grammatical errors – fyi, this kid literally is getting a D in English [which is a 29-45 out of 100], but was able to find the blatant errors.
I proceed to go into my classroom, take out my red pen, and go through that exam and mark every error, circling the ones that are simply unacceptable. By the end, the pages were covered in red. With my evidence, I walk to the office, but alas the principal is gone. I am instead directed to the staff room to staple part 2 of the English exams. What do I find? This exam is EVEN WORSE than the first!!!! Words don’t express my anger. I go to the computer lab to cool off so I don’t start crying in frustration [this is becoming a trend, Peace Corps is making me so emotional!]. The principal finds me there, and I show him my red-marked first exam, and point out the absurd second exam, saying how this is too embarrassing to even begin with. He sees my reason – at first I think he was annoyed because I was so persistent/this was a hassle of a problem to address/properly fix, but then he realized this was ridiculous, and said that he would call the principal from the other school and have the second exam emailed over so I could correct it, because there was too much gross negligence going on. That principal got angry as a result [duh, because it was embarrassing that his school wrote this]. But, a couple hours later I fixed it to a somewhat more presentable quality – some things were beyond simply correcting grammar.
This story still makes me angry because the point is – how are these kids supposed to take their schooling seriously if their teachers aren’t taking their teaching seriously? Honest to God whoever wrote these exams did not spend even a single minute proofreading to find the insane typos/realize this was entirely unreadable English. There have been many trying moments in this job, but this exam saga was the most upset I’ve been about incompetency in the workplace since I began Peace Corps a year ago. In my opinion, whoever wrote that exam should be fired – for embarrassing him/herself, for lowering English standards, and most importantly, for having written something that makes the 350 Grade 6 learners in Luderitz feel like their studies are a joke and they’re not worth someone spending a respectable amount of time writing a decent exam, one that reflects their hard work. #frustration