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After scoring ELA tests, a teacher says good grading isn't easy

Some people think scoring the state English language arts exam is a piece of cake. But judging from the experience of one teacher-blogger who was sent away from her school last week to grade tests, it’s not actually an easy job at all. The teacher, Miss Brave, writes that the new requirement that tests be scored at centralized locations makes the task even harder:

My fellow graders and I did our best to be thorough. We frequently passed tests around the table to get a second opinion, and for those essays we were truly on the fence about, we had spirited discussions and consulted our rubrics frequently before committing to a final grade. When grading the editing passages, in which students have to correct grammatical errors, I always counted twice to make sure I was grading correctly. But we were only one room, and who knows what was going on in the other rooms at the other grading sites? Some schools sent intermediate and junior high school teachers to grade third graders’ exams, and some of those teachers had to be gently reminded that they were dealing with the writing of eight-year-olds, not teenagers. Some graders seemed to be handing out 4s to nearly every essay, while others seemed to be unwilling to give the students the benefit of the doubt. Despite our supervisors’ best efforts to get everyone on the same page of the same rubric, grading the ELA, I learned, is frighteningly subjective. The exams we graded, for example, all came from districts outside our own — districts that tend to be high-scoring. I teach a population of mostly ELLs in a low-scoring district, so I was pretty impressed by the work that I read — until I thought about teachers who are used to teaching high-scoring kids in other districts who would be reading the exams from my district and wondering what the kids could possibly be thinking.

Miss Brave also says her grading site was disorganized, and little attention appeared to be paid to concerns about cheating. Read her whole account here.

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