Who's Scoring Those High-Stakes Tests? Poorly Trained Temps

By Fortner, Cameron | The Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2001 | Go to article overview

Who's Scoring Those High-Stakes Tests? Poorly Trained Temps


Fortner, Cameron, The Christian Science Monitor


Growing up in California's public schools, I took more standardized tests than I can remember: Teachers at every grade level stressed their importance. I didn't want to let anyone down, so I approached each test with all the solemnity and effort a child can muster.

I never questioned that obedience. As a child, I imagined my test answers being flown across the country to a room of educated, professional test scorers who possessed a zeal for essays written on such topics as "A moment that changed my life."

My summer as a test-scorer disabused me of that notion. As a recent college graduate, I worked in a Boston testing company, and instead of the professionals I'd envisioned painstakingly grading exams, I found a room full of temporary employees who had little respect for - and minimal investment in - their jobs.

It was my first assignment after registering with a temporary- employment agency in June. For a fee, the grading company they placed me with scores exams and summarizes the results. My job was to score the essay portion of a test taken last spring by eighth- grade students all across the United States.

Before I began working, I attended a three-day training seminar during which I studied a scoring rubric, learned a numerical scoring system, and read hundreds of sample essays graded by experts.

Several other temps and I read the same essays, scored them, and compared our results. Often there were wide disparities between our scores, and it surprised me that these differences decreased only slightly as the training progressed. It surprised me even more to learn that those disparities were acceptable. We were told - by trainers who were themselves temps - that our scores need be only within one number of the standard on a five-point scale. This meant that if an essay "should" have gotten a score of three, as long as we gave that student a two or a four, we were close enough.

All of the scorers - even all the supervisors - were temps, some with poor English skills, and many without a college degree. Perhaps the grading system seemed subjective because most of us had no background in education, were minimally trained, and therefore weren't well qualified to evaluate standardized tests.

It's no wonder our scores differed to such an alarming extent. The turnover rate was high, because our compensation was low and many people left after finding higher-paying jobs. In addition, many of my fellow scorers were young college students, and some of them scored essays written by high school students only a few years their junior.

Some scorers had been there for months before I arrived, and the work environment lacked any sense of purpose or professionalism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who's Scoring Those High-Stakes Tests? Poorly Trained Temps
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.