MESC and the SPBEA take these very seriously; something I have first-hand experience with from my great CAT debacle last year. For the Year 12 CATS, they are to be delivered to the schools the morning they are to be sat by 9 am. Our have never arrived until after 9am, but that is still ok. The teacher is then supposed to sit as many students as possible in one go. If you have too many students to sit at once, you are to leave as little gap between the groups as possible. The students are not allowed to leave the room with the assignment sheet and all the students must sit the CAT on the assigned day.
However, from my experience last year, I have learned that the teachers do not necessarily take it as seriously. Teachers have a week to finish marking the CAT before turning it in and at many schools the teacher will sit the CAT any time during that week. That was how I got into the trouble of the great CAT debacle last year. The other teachers at my school just told me to sit my CAT on a different day because we were not in school on the assigned day of the CAT.
Friday's CAT arrived at a quarter to 10 am. I immediately sat down to do the CAT to make sure there were no surprises. While having the students practise with last year's CAT, we discovered that one of the steps required the students to do something that can only be done in MS Excel 2003 and our computers only have 2000. I wanted to check for anything like that before handing the CAT out to the students so I could instruct them on what they should do instead. Thankfully, there were no surprises. In fact, the CAT was sort of off the hook easy. In all previous years the students had been required to make a graph as part of the spreadsheet CAT, but not this year.
We started sitting the 12.1 class at a little after 10 am. They were finished by 11 am. Unfortunately, interval was on and we were having a hard time informing and rounding up the 12.2 students to come sit the CAT. We had almost all of them by 11:30, with one girl showing up closer to noon. Most of them were finished by 12:30 pm and we brought in the 12.3 and 12.4 students, the last group to sit the CAT.
And then it happened.
At just after 1 pm, the power went out. I was sitting at a computer when the lights flickered violently and I looked up, the words "SAVE NOW!" coming out of my mouth without my even having to think about it. Unfortunately it was too late. Seconds after the light flicker, the power was gone and the four students who were still working on their CATs lost all their work.
I grabbed my raincoat and braved the downpour to run over to Cale's school. Maybe he still had power, maybe we could finish the CAT there. No such luck. Later, his principal called to inform us that the power was out on this whole west side of Apia.
Next I got the cell phone and called MESC to talk to those in charge of the CAT about what options I had. If we had to sit the CAT today, I was going to have to take these kids to another school. After I was transferred and put on hold repeatedly, I ran out of credit with no answer from MESC.
I run up to see the secretary, "Does the phone still work if there is no power?"
"No," she says.
I explain the situation to her and she tells me that she has the phone plugged into the internet phone line and it is working. I wonder why the answer to my question had been no a minute before, but I decided not to worry about it.
I call MESC, I am transferred, put on hold and disconnected repeatedly. No one that I need to talk to appears to be in the office and no one knows what to do about it. The secretary tries for me, requesting in Samoan the cell phone numbers of the people we want to reach, no such luck.
Finally, we decided these four kids will come back on Saturday to do the CAT. They are not happy about it. I send them home. I go home. I am home for 15 minutes when the power comes back. Crap. The kids are already gone. If we had just waited another 15 minutes they could have sat it now.
Saturday all four kids show up (which actually surprised me a little). They sit the CAT, I mark them. Hooray! Everything is finished.
More more CAT for the Year 12s in about a month and the BIG CAT for the Year 13s in August. Cross your fingers the power stays on.