Test Coordinator

As I have said, MCU designs its own English language evaluation for non-English majors. Everyone in the school, except English majors, has to take this test 4 times a year. In fact, there are many more tests than this implies. For example, we just finished producing the final exam for this term. Every semester’s final has a day-time test and a make-up test of which about half the test questions must be different. The juniors have another test for the night school which also must be different. In total, we wrote 10 exams for the final.

This year, I was appointed ‘Test Coordinator’. The duties of this job were left rather vague, but the responsibilities of it are strikingly clear. I have become solely responsible for the quality of all of these tests. If there is a problem, it is me who will answer for it.

What does this mean in terms of real work? My job is not about language testing the way you learned it at school. Rather, it’s a paper pushing job that organizes schedules and deadlines. I appoint the writing teams and designate who will be the editors and writers of each of these. I have to make sure that the test editors (see my posting on The Test) get their assignments and distribute them to their writers. I have to make sure that all the writers get their assignments, write them, and that the editors have turned them into an exam on schedule. I set these deadlines. On the day we administer these exams, I have to be at school to make sure that everything goes smoothly and address any problems that arise. Along with this, I have to standardize exam writing to follow a system more in-line with mass production procedures. In addition, I must also serve as an editor for several of these exams. There are a million other details that I have to look after that are too small to go into here.

The compensation that I get is in no way adequate for this job. In fact, I am not really compensated for doing the job of Test Coordinator. My teaching hours have been reduced slightly, but, they were not reduced at all for the honour of serving as the Test Coordinator. As I said above, I also have to serve as a test editor and test editors also get this same hourly teaching reduction.

Despite how I sound here, I actually like doing the job. It’s different from teaching, and for our program, it’s very important that the test be well written. I don’t know how long I will think of this as an adventure, but for now, it’s a challenging job. I imagine that sometime next year, most of the important problems will have been handled, and the daily work will become routine. But until then, I really enjoy the work.


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