Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Biggest Testing Scandal of All

This from Diane Ravitch's blog:
Pearson has a contract with the state of Texas for five years that is worth close to $500 million. That ought to bring gold-plated service and products to the children of Texas, right?

Pearson is advertising for test graders in Texas on craigslist!

The graders need only a bachelor’s degree, and they will be paid $12 an hour.

They will be “trained,” of course, but think of it. Their snap decisions will decide the fate of students, teachers, and schools. If they aren’t that good at what they do, children will fail, teachers will be fired, and schools will be closed. Because of decisions made by a temp worker.

Shocking as this is, it is nothing new. Todd Farley wrote a book called Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, in which he described his many years inside the testing industry.

For a quick read right now, be sure to open this article, Dan Dimaggio’s horrifying account of his experiences as a test grader.

Here is a sample:
“Test-scoring companies make their money by hiring a temporary workforce each spring, people willing to work for low wages (generally $11 to $13 an hour), no benefits, and no hope of long-term employment—not exactly the most attractive conditions for trained and licensed educators. So all it takes to become a test scorer is a bachelor’s degree, a lack of a steady job, and a willingness to throw independent thinking out the window and follow the absurd and ever-changing guidelines set by the test-scoring companies. Some of us scorers are retired teachers, but most are former office workers, former security guards, or former holders of any of the diverse array of jobs previously done by the currently unemployed. When I began working in test scoring three years ago, my first “team leader” was qualified to supervise, not because of his credentials in the field of education, but because he had been a low-level manager at a local Target.”
So Texas spends nearly $500 million to hire an army of low-wage temps to make fateful decisions about the future of students, teachers, and schools. And of course it is not just Texas. It is every other state in the nation.

Why trust the judgment of a fallible teacher or principal, when you can rely on the judgment of a $12 an hour temp, supervised by a Target manager?

This is crazy.


Anonymous said...

THe posting pretty much sums it up for me. I am potentially going to loose my job which I have earned three degrees to perform and have almost 20 years of experience because some unemployed, under trained college grade or older worker is somehow determining if I did my job this year based on a piece of paper completed by a child on one day out of the year and evaluated based on concepts the grader probably doesn't understand or care to understand. What's that saying about the foxes and the hen house?

Anonymous said...

Who do you think has been scoring any of the tests since KIRIS era and beyond. What do people think, there is a warehouse of highly educated assessment specialists who sit and score tests for a living? I have scored national assessments before and after a few days you start to go nuts double blind scoring open responses using a answer guide you have been indoctrinated into applying. Heck, anymore they are starting to scan them and put them on line to score and you have to crank out a certain number per hour or the drop you from their scoring crews - kind of the equivalent of factory line work for white collar folks.