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View Diary: my son fired from a job of grading fifth grade essays (203 comments)

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  •  Grading your child's essay - Hah! (2+ / 0-)
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    Adam B, TiaRachel
    ...if it's my kid's essay being graded I don't want the grader to be distracted by music while it's happening.
    Ok, just FYI.  I graded essays on Indiana/Kentucky standardized one summer while I was between gigs.  It was mind-numbing but something I was apparently EXTREMELY good at.  Better than anyone on my team in fact.  This was a team filled with grade/high school teachers (and a couple of us "others").

    The manager of the team was a musician who did this "on the side" and was a very good grader.  He told us that if we "figured it out" then we'd be capable of grading as many tests as he could in a day (150+, 4 essays each, so 600 questions).  Most teachers and people on the team averaged 40-50 tests per day.

    Near the end of my stint in my final two weeks,something clicked for me.  

    I suddenly started grading 130, then 140 and finally 170 tests in a day.  My supervisor told me to back it down a smidgeon so I didn't become a huge outlier.  Another person on the team a few days later seemed to get the same epiphany and she started grading 130 or so tests a day.  Nobody else graded more than 60.  

    We both also led the accuracy ratings.

    The key to our success and subsequent bonus pay?  DON'T READ THE ESSAYS.

    So, in fact, my near 100% accuracy when "reading" your child's essay was accomplished in ~30-60 seconds.  

    In under 5 seconds I know if your child's grade is going to be 0 or 1, 1 or 2, 2 or 3, 3 or 4, etc. (depending upon the scale of the test).  So now I spend the next few seconds just glancing to see if they got enough of the key points I've been told to look for.

    It doesn't matter if they write it in their own feces and use swear words every other sentence.  It doesn't matter if they wander off mid-way through and tell me the story of a troll whose finger got stuck up their nose searching for boogers for the next 8 paragraphs.  As long as they mention, in one sentence even, the key point I'm supposed to grade on, they get the point.

    Reading the essay is the key to not hitting your quota or your accuracy rating.  If you read it, you start to empathize with the child, then you start to say...maybe I'll just nudge them up a point because they really tried (and it almost always is up vs. down).  But this is standardized testing.  I'm not supposed to consider your child's feelings, their future, or anything more than that they're the next checkbox I have to fill.  As a grader, I am punished for thinking any other way.

    I was asked back repeatedly after that and even called to see if I might consider managing a team.  I respectfully declined.  I'd like to say my principles stopped me, but my regular work picked back up which pays 5-10 times as much.

    Standardized testing is standardized.  And your little snowflake isn't anything more than a checkbox.  Any grader who treats them differently will be punished for it.

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