19 March 2011 – A Day


Got up early this morning and started marking the Form 3 MOCK BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination). The BECE will be given April 11 – 18. The results of this exam will pretty much determine if and where a student will go to High School.

Our students took the 5th set of mock exams this week. They will take tests in 8 subjects. Let me try to name them all – Integrated Science, Maths, English, Twi, Social Studies, Religion and Moral Education, ICT, Technical Arts and Agriculture. Oh that’s 9.

I was happy with the results.Through out the term I have kept an Excel spreadsheet with their results from each mock. I compared the results of each mock with the first one.   There were 5 As(80-100 is an A in Ghana).  At least 10 students increased their marks by 20-36 points and many more gained 10 – 20 points.  Less than 10 students lost points

As happy as I was with the students results I was equally frustrated with the exam itself. The school purchased a set of mock exams created by Ghana Education Service (GES). In the set were 50 question papers, 50 answer sheets that can be corrected by computer and the answers to the test for the teacher.

The answers for three multiple choice questions were wrong wrong wrong! On two more questions I could have argued for two of the answers as correct. On the essay questions students were asked to name three advantages of the Internet. The answer sheet listed uses of the Internet. Last the students were shown an Excel spreadsheet. They were asked to calculate the numbers for the population of Ghana in regions. They were actually told to do the math and not to write the excel formulas to calculate the sums. What made me crazy is that I repeated at least a billion times that I don’t want the answers when we work with Excel but I want the formula. The purpose of Excel is to let the computer do the math for you.

I was not a classroom teacher in the US. I never dealt with standardized test that end so I don’t know if there are errors on standardized tests in the US as well but it sure made me tear my hair out.  The other problem with the wrong answers is that Ghanaians respect authority (too much from my American point of view), and the mark on the test is so important that sometimes my counterpart will want to teach the wrong answers. We argue and I think my brassy American attitude convinced him that the students needed to know the right answers regardless of the test or what the authorities said.

Before I returned the test I wrote a small congratulations note to each student who had improved his/her score by more than 20 points and for the A and B students. This is SOP for me but I had begun to wonder if the students appreciated it until the midterms this year. One boy from Form 2 came to me and said “Madam I had an 85 on my paper and so did Christopher but you wrote “Excellent Work” on his and but not on mine.

All of this took me until 3:00 pm. I had taken a bath in the morning but the day was hot and muggy and I wanted one before I took a nap. Drats no water. So I took 3 500 ml sachets of drinking water and emptied them into my bucket and took a sponge bath in my room. It’s nice to rinse the heat of the afternoon off before laying down. I have been taking a sponge bath in the evenings as well. Then I have the fan so my damp skin feels so cool as the fan blows over it. Who needs an air conditioner!

The day was steamy I used three hankies to wipe my brow etc while I was marking my exams but just as I lay down a small breeze came through the windows. Then the breeze turned into a wind and by 5:30 pm the cloud cover had dampened the heat of the day.

As I write now it is raining. I can hear the rain falling gently on the roof and rustling through the leaves in the forest outside my window.

We have had rain 5 out of 7 days this week. I think the rainy season is back – Hip hip hooray!

To add icing to the cake Werner is back from a two week vacation with his Auntie and Brother. Werner is one of the German volunteers. We have bonded over books and movies.

All is well at BASCO.

Sound sleep.



1 Comment

  1. Edem simon said,

    April 26, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I want to know when the will stated the correction of b.e.c.e april 2012.l’m french teacher,can i admited to the correction?

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