A testing blunder

Published 7:56 pm Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was reading this week that Alabama students’ ACT scores are closing in on the national average but are still slightly lower.

This year, Alabama students scored an average of 20.4, a small increase from the 20.3 recorded in 2007.

The latest national average is 21.1, slightly down from 21.2 last year. A score of 36 represents a perfect score on the test, which covers the subject areas of English, mathematics, reading and science.

My memory of taking the ACT is probably more eventful than that of most people. I say this because the group of people with whom I was taking the test had a scare that was inadvertently caused by me.

I took the test at Chilton County High School. While the test was being administered, you had to be quiet so everybody could concentrate.

Soon after the tests were handed out, we were all busy filling in the familiar answer slots. It was quiet, until all of a sudden BLAAAMMM!!!

Everybody in the classroom (and probably some people in adjoining classrooms) jumped, and the next thing I knew, everybody was staring back toward me.

Apparently, I had moved slightly in my desk, causing the desk to nudge the gas space heater in the back of the classroom. The heavy panel on the front of the heater had fallen off and hit the floor. It was probably the loudest possible sound that could have been made in the classroom.

As I remember, one of the students in the classroom said he thought he had been shot.

I have since been informed that the large heaters, dubbed by some as “Big Bertha,” have been removed from the school.

Maybe whoever does the testing studies should factor in the decreasing number of students suffering from “fallen heater door shock.”

I just hope nobody who scored poorly that day is holding a grudge.

Note: Scott Mims is the news editor of The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Friday.