PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JUNE 13
By Leo Haggerty

THE NEW NORMAL

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe. 

This will not be a column that deals with sports directly. What it will cover is what “The New Normal” looks like in the field of education and how it indirectly effects athletes.

For the last 25 years, give or take a couple, I have been a proctor for the SAT as well as the ACT national tests on a given Saturday. If you are not familiar with either of these tests, they are the ones that colleges and universities require for entrance into their institutions.

No more than 25 prospective college students would file into the classroom that I was designated to proctor. I would read the directions and time the tests and they would agonize over the answers.  It was like that year after year.

I was usually called upon to perform this paid duty around five time during the academic year. Sometimes more and sometimes less depending upon how often the SAT and ACT were schedule at the high school where I was employed.

The higher the scorer, the better your chances are for gaining admittance to that institution of higher learning. It also can be used to determine if a school wants to give you a grant-in-aid based on your academic standing.

For an athlete, that coincides directly with whether you can be offered a scholarship. Athletes must meet a minimum SAT or ACT score to be eligible for athletic aid.  Simplde as that.

Let me take you back to 1969 so I can give you an example of the old testing way.   The setting is southern New Jersey on a crisp November day and I am taking the SAT for the first, and thank god the only, time at 8 am.

So, why do you need this information? Well, in most of Jersey, high school football games were played on Saturday afternoons. My high school, John F. Kennedy in Willingboro, was no exception.

We had a football game scheduled for a 1:30 pm kickoff. Because the SAT would not conclude until around noon, the members of the football team took the test in their football gear so we would not miss the bus to the contest.

We came into the locker room at 7:30 am on SAT test day. All of those taking the test were taped and dressed in 30 minutes. The only uniform items we needed to put on were the shoulder pads and helmets and cleats.  We were a sight to behold to say the least.

As soon as the test concluded, we hustled to the bus to head out to the gridiron. I must report that I did well enough to gain admittance and procure a scholarship to Drexel University in Philadelphia.

That was pretty much business-as-usual when it came to the college board tests. That dynamic changed completely in March of 2020 when Covid-19 raised its ugly head.

Since then, no SAT or ACT test has been administered until today. In fact, I can give you a quick up-close-and-personal view of what “The New Normal” looks like because I am proctoring the ACT today.

Here are the changes. First, for the students. All testing rooms will not exceed 10 examinees. Upon arrival, all registration checkpoints will be a minimum of 6 feet from each other. The test takers will be instructed to practice social distancing at all times. Also, desks will be configured so no one is within 6 feet of anyone at any time. Masks and gloves are encouraged but not required.

Ok, now for the adult workers like myself. We must bring our own device to the test center because all instructions are given online. All proctors must wear masks and gloves at all times. Hand sanitizer is provided so it can be distributed to examinees after they return from breaks.

Here’s the most embarrassing one for me. If a student is wearing a mask, the proctor must ask the individual to remove the covering so it can be checked to make sure nothing is written on it that would give that student an unfair advantage. We can thank Rick Singer, who was the mastermind of the college entrance exam scandal, for that little tidbit.

This is the first attempt at providing the college board test post-pandemic. So far, everything is running smooth and I hope it continues because, if this doesn’t work, I don’t have the foggiest notion what Plan B would be.

Stay tuned for an update in July when another national test is scheduled.  The entire process could change and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.