Public Values

Long-distance scorer reveals absurdity of corporate test-scoring system

Politicians and corporations benefit from privatized test-scoring, students and test-scorers suffer.

Test scorers work long hours for little pay, but the fate of the education system is in their hands.Dan DiMaggio, a sometime long-distance test scorer, routinely works long hours as a temporary, seasonal employee scoring the written-response portions of standardized tests. Multinationals focused on maximizing profits dominate the competitive test-scoring industry; thus, DiMaggio and his colleagues foresee no hope of receiving benefits, wage increases, or permanent employment.

Moreover, since scorers are expected to evaluate hundreds of tests per day, they can only spend about a minute on each student's work. Those who work from home usually have to score 40 tests per hour to make $12 per hour. At these rates, quality must suffer. But as DiMaggio points out, test-scoring quality is redundant since actual test scores must match predicted statistics.

Ultimately, the test-scoring companies want to produce acceptable numbers before the established deadline to continue getting more contracts. Meanwhile, politicians look good when test scores are going up. The Obama administration's push for more standardized testing will only transfer the problem to a national level and make matters worse.

"Standardized testing has become central to education policy in the United States. After dramatically expanding in the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, testing has been further enshrined by the Obama administration's $3.4 billion "Race to the Top" grants. Given the ongoing debate over these policies, it might be useful to hear about the experiences of a hidden sector of the education workforce: those of us who make our living scoring these testsÂ…"

For the complete article, please click here.

Posted: January 05, 2011

  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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