Tuesday, December 2, 2014

End of Term Exams

I'm finishing up my first term at my Community Day Secondary School here in Malawi.  We had lessons and review last week, and this week and next are for end of term exams.

While I have been assigning homework and having end of unit tests all term, none of it actually counts for the student grades. (Which might explain why many students don't do the homework.) Their entire grade is based on this one exam. My Form 1 and Form 3 students get three end of term grades, but even if they fail they will still progress to the next Form (grade level, so Form 2 and 4, respectively).

While higher grades are better, it is really more of a pass/fail from what I can see. The grading scale is a bit different here, so 40% is a D which is considered passing. Which is a good thing because otherwise I might have a lot of failing students.

I have had teachers that complained that the American grading scale had become too lenient. They said everyone expects to get As now whereas a C used to be acceptable, and you had to really perform well to get an A. Those teachers might like it here in Malawi because that is pretty much how it is.

End of term exams are a unique time because this is the only time the students don't have to supply their own paper. For all other homework and tests, I write the questions on the board and they copy them down and answer on a separate sheet of paper. So the size of the chalkboard limits the length of the exams and the types of questions you can ask. Not so for the end of term exams.

For my exams I used a combination of multiple choice, short answer and essay questions. It was kind of fun making up the wrong answers for the multiple choice, but sad when the students chose those answers incorrectly. I wasn't sure if they were familiar with true/false here so I left that out.

My exams are over now, so I just have to mark them and turn in the grades. Sounds simple, right? Well look at these stacks. That is over 160 exams to grade. By hand. Good thing my Mom sent me lots of red pens (Thank you, Mom!)

The next term starts in January. In the meantime I need to work on planning out the next term for my classes and recording my plan in the Scheme of Records books the school provided. I will also be doing some work in the library over the break. But don't worry, it won't all be work. I have lots of fun stuff planned for the holidays too!

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