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Posts Tagged ‘Norbert Schmitt’

Not long after arriving at my new job, I was informed that I would be handling the administration and grading of the university’s English language placement exam. I was shocked by the experience for a couple reasons:

  1. The exam is delivered on a Sunday. Having previously worked for a Christian university, I was surprised that any program would think it was necessary to hold an exam on a weekend, let alone a Sunday.
  2. A major portion of the exam consisted of a 100-item grammar test. The university does not even offer a grammar ESL class. There seemed little use in spending 45-minutes delivering a grammar exam that would have little consequential value.
  3. The exam was older. Really old. No one had an original version of the exam – only photocopies of photocopies. And the instructions to the exam contained the phrase, “Please do not smoke during the exam.” Really? How many decades ago would it have been likely that students would have assumed it *would* be okay to attempt to smoke during an exam?

Despite these reservations and the wacky rating scales for the oral and writing components, we made it through the administration of the exam. I decided that I would work towards updating the exam, but my plans were diverted by somewhat defensive suggestions that the exam could use revisions. Besides, I was too busy to do a test analysis study. Then, four months later I was asked to administer the exam again – and was once again subjected to the embarrassment of asking students to complete an exam that I personally did not strongly believe in. That shame was enough to finally convince me to do something about it.

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