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  •  No, essay scoring it is not 'a scam' (0+ / 0-)

    I have scored essays for 9 years for AP.  Scorers are dedicated professionals - high school and college teachers who genuinely care about teaching and learning. I have worked directly with over 100 of them and know many more.  Mostly the same people return year after year, and believe me, they know the program.

    Grading of this sort is necessarily 'subjective' - meaning it cannot be done by a machine. But please do not confuse 'subjective' with 'arbitrary'. There is nothing arbitrary about it.

    The 'operational' scoring rubrics are generated through the reading of hundreds of samples. There are two principle objects in developing this. One object is to develop a standard that is capable in practice of discriminating whether a student met or did not meet each particular standard that applies in the scoring of that essay (five or six separate standards in my field, depending on the essay) - its a binary decision for each standard. Another is to make the rubric clear enough - the line between met/did not meet - to be teachable to the scorers.  In the end, it should not matter who reads the essay or at what time of day or on what day of the week - it should get the same score.  We "backread" scored essays to make sure scorers are "on standard".  A deviation of more than one point (out of a possible 9) is acceptable - and statistically insignificant.

    The system is not perfect.  One comes across essays that score a '5' because they hit the marks, but which are less good 'holistically' speaking than another you might have read that only scored a '3'.  But these are relatively rare: you might see two of those in 150 essays.  But essays which score in the 7-9 range are genuinely good; those in the 1-3 range genuinely bad (with the occasional exception noted above).

    So no, essay scoring is not inherently a scam just because it is done on such a mass basis. One could wish all teachers applied such consistent standards when grading their own students essays (and indeed, many new scorers gain a new appreciation for the virtues of good rubrics and seek to improve their own in-school practices as a result of their experience with AP).

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