You were stressed; your children were stressed; and the teachers in their school were stressed. But the ELA and Math tests are over and we don’t have to worry about the results until August. What we should be worrying about is who is marking them. Will graders be careful, thoughtful, and competent? Carelessly graded exams are worthless, and only serve to punish children, teachers, and schools. So who grades the tests?
Pearson advertises for test graders on the website Indeed.com. The advertisement below is from Pearson’s Austin, Texas scoring center. They want college graduates (or equivalency?), any degree, and they are willing to pay $13 an hour, almost as much as a customer associate earns at Walmart, but significantly less than our test grader would make at Costco or Home Depot. Their “highly qualified” graders, unable to find or hold jobs in low paying service industries will be expected to “put aside personal biases,” evaluate “student responses to subject-related open-ended questions,” and “apply scoring guide according to customer requirements.”
Similar positions are also available at Pearson’s Charlotte, North Carolina and Hadley, Massachusetts grading centers. Questar Assessment, which designs and grades tests for New York State has similar ads with similar qualifications for seasonal test scorers, but their ad does not list the hourly wage. However, according to the website Glassdoor, salaries range between $12 and $15 an hour an hour.
In Florida, teacher and school administration candidates are protesting arbitrary certification tests that seem designed to produce high failure rates. According to a report by WPTV in West Palm Beach, since 2015 failure rates have significantly increased on the Florida Teacher Certification and Educational Leadership exams while Pearson profits from each failure. Up until 2009, the Florida Department of Education subsidized the tests, but no more. Candidates paid $25 to take each part of the multi-part tests and did not pay to retake a section that they failed. Pearson now charges test-takers up to $200 per section and an additional $20 to retake a section, an increase of 800 percent. Test-takers can appeal failing scores and pay $75 for a reevaluation. In January and February there were 871 appeals but only 15 scores were changed from fail to pass, less than 2 percent. Julie McCue, a veteran teacher with 21 years of classroom experience, a Master’s degree, and high evaluations from supervisors, is suing the Florida Department. Ms. McCue has failed the essay portion of the leadership exam four times with the exact same score and each of her grade appeals were rejected by Pearson. McCue believes the real failure is Pearson’s for hiring low paid unqualified test scorers.
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