Since Jan. 3, I've been marking CEGEP English exit exams six and a half hours a day, and this week (Monday to Wed.), doing double duty, teaching my evening ESL class for three. Add in two and a half hours of commuting, and that makes for some full days...
English CEGEPs graduate about 8 - 10,000 students a year, each of whom has to write a standardized English Exit exam -- a 750 word essay analyzing either a short story or literary essay -- to prove that he or she has achieved an acceptable degree of proficiency in the language of, if not Shakespeare, Hemingway or Atwood. There are about 50 markers -- about half are CEGEP teachers, about half "externals" like me (although I have taught in CEGEP for a session or two...). This session there are about 4,000 exams to be marked -- the papers are graded by two independent evaluators who then consult to come up with a consensus on two of three criteria, going for the higher grade of the remaining criterion if it remains a grade apart. Failures are passed on to supervisors for further adjudication. Ultimately, all this byzantine-sounding complexity adds up a system that ensures a maximal degree of fairness, I believe -- although sometimes I wonder what it says about trust (or trustworthiness) in CEGEP standards that this sort of test has to be given for students who have already passed their way through the system.
I got the news today that I didn't make the CBC shortlist this year. I could have guessed as much: last year they notified me I was on it on Dec. 18. (Therefore, fellow competitors, if you haven't heard from the CBC by Xmas, don't hold your breath -- definitely, send that work elsewhere!)
Funny thing is, this year's submission was much stronger than last year's -- a new-and-improved version. Shows you how subjective these things are. Boo hoo.
A lot of the CEGEP exams this term are quite good (some, of course, are atrocious), but occasionally we come across funny phonetically-based spelling errors. One student wrote, "This is a doggy dog world."
Yes it is. Woof woof.