Today was the English portion of the test. As they started session 1, I was surprised to find that one girl started with her essay. I was also impressed.
Normally, students start at question 1 and work their way through the test in order. They don't have to. So long as they remain working in session 1, they can do the work in any order they wish. I thought that doing the essay first would work better, but I'm not about to interrupt them working just to tell them that.
I settled into my normal testing routine. I walked the room. Then I stopped and watched the room. And then I walked around the room again.
We were about twenty minutes into session 1 when another girl closed up her test booklet. I knew she couldn't be finished, so I went over to investigate. She had finished the multiple choice portion, but she had not done the essay. For some reason, she thought the essay came later.
I explained that the essay needed to be done in session 1. She had no problem with this, and she started working on it right away. The boy at the next table over had also closed his test booklet, but after overhearing my conversation with the girl, he got to work on his essay, too.
I have helped proctor the CAHSEE a lot. Students missing the essay? This I have never seen. So, I didn't expect to see it again.
It was a little while later that another student closed up the testing booklet. I decided to check, and sure enough, this student also had not done the essay.
I wonder if the instructions just weren't clear. I know I heard the assistant principal talk about doing the essay in session 1. He went over the usual instructions. But still, even after the previous three students, I found a couple other students who had not done the essay.
I got paranoid after that. I checked each student as he/she finished, and under the pretense of seeing if they had a book to read, I glanced at their answer document to make sure something was written in the essay section. After that first bunch, though, I didn't find another student who hadn't written the essay.
As the students checked out, I glanced through the test (to make sure that things like serial numbers are bubbled in). They had all attempted the essay.
Tomorrow is the math. There is no essay with math. Whew!