1. a person appointed to keep watch over students at examinations.
2. an official charged with various duties, esp. with the maintenance of good order.
–verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
3. to supervise or monitor.
[Origin: 1350–1400; ME; contracted var. of procurator]
End of Grade exams (EOGs) were this week at my son’s middle school. A few weeks ago I had volunteered to help relieve teachers for while so they could enjoy some punch and cookies and a massage during Teacher Appreciation Day. At the end of the day, I was asked if I would consider being a proctor for the EOGs, and gladly said I would.
I was a little mystified about the need for proctors at a middle school, but upon looking into the matter the fog cleared quickly. EOGs are state level assessments, similar to the annual fill-in-the-circle exams we took when I was in school. North Carolina takes the integrity of these exams to a whole new level, however. Teachers check out a tub full of exam booklets and answer forms each morning, are required to keep that tub with them at all times throughout the exam period, and check it back in at the end of the day’s testing.
Proctors are assigned to each classroom to watch teachers and students, ensure that there is no cheating, and verify that each student has a matching color-coded test book and answer sheet with their name pre-printed on it, among other things. Proctors are not permitted to touch the exams, the answer sheets, or even the students’ pencils or calculators at any time, even to assist in handing them out or taking them up. Each item is meticulously and methodically rationed out by the teacher, one student at a time. Not even a “take two pencils and pass the rest” approach is permitted. If the proctor spots what may be an issue with a student, the proctor takes the concern to the teacher rather than address the issue directly. Should a student require an emergency bathroom break, the proctor escorts the student to and from the toilet.
It’s all very easy and mundane, with only one real hurdle to overcome: proctors are not permitted to sit at any time. So for a little more than four hours each of the last three mornings, I have diligently paced between the desks of students while they furiously but silently filled in little circles on answer sheets (with only number 2 pencils, of course!). It was an interesting experience, being able to just watch the students while they mostly paid no attention to me. It seemed almost like a science experiment where the scientist watches the behavior of his laboratory mice from behind mirrored glass.
I’ve written a little about it below the fold.
Read the rest of this entry »