Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why A School Would Want To Have Some Regents Tests Rescored

The NY Post reported that 55 schools out of 860 schools in NYC had some Regents exams "rescored."

Four of these schools were "Renewal" schools.

This is supposed to make readers think that these schools - and the de Blasio NYCDOE - is cheating in order to improve test scores.

But if you know anything about the Regents exam grading process, you'd know why some exams need to be rescored.

Regents exams are now scored outside of individual schools, either during the school day or after school when teachers are paid extra to score exams.

This is supposed to ensure objectivity in the scoring of the exams and prevent cheating in individual schools (where teachers and administrators have a lot riding on the scores.)

Alas, the "norming" process for training the teachers to do the grading is often haphazard at best, incompetent at worst.

I've graded both during the day and after school for per session and I can tell you, I've seen some people lead the "norming" process who had no idea what they were doing.

In one case, the person leading ELA "norming" a few years ago gave some erroneous information about the grading of exams that was only corrected because several veteran teachers at the session pushed back against the information that was being given out.

In other cases, I have seen "norming" sessions in which most teachers present have agreed upon the way to approach the exam only to have one or two teachers say "I don't care what the rest of you say about that - I'm going to grade this way!"

One year, during the electronic grading, I saw a teacher who decided to grade the Part 3 ELA responses with her own grading system rather than the one the state had given in the grading materials.

She gave 0's to short response paragraphs that clearly should have been 1's and 1's to short response paragraphs that should have been 2's.

Given that she was grading both parts of the Part 3 section, she easily could have been the difference between some students passing the exam or failing it.

Now "quality control" is supposed to catch this kind of thing, and after a while, a supervisor did approach her and tell her she wasn't grading according to the state standards.

But what happened to all the tests she had already graded?

Were they rescored?  Or were the grades kept and they simply took her off the scoring going forward?

Another problem with scoring the exams is that teachers are often under the gun to get the tests graded by a certain deadline.

I saw this first hand with history exams last year, as teachers were "speedgrading" tests the night before the last day of school.

How accurate were the grades during the speedgrading sessions?

Hard to say - maybe teachers are more forgiving during "speedgrading" sessions and apt to give students the benefit of the doubt, maybe they're more apt to grade severely because they're feeling stressed.

In any case, one thing I do know - teachers weren't able to give much thought to the grading process that last day.

Schools are allowed to request rescoring of some exams if they see egregious errors in the grading process or believe they have evidence that the scoring was unfair and contrary to the state standards.

These requests are not always granted - a few years ago, I know a school that asked to have about a half-dozen exams rescored out of hundreds scored because the grading of the essays in these half-dozen tests was clearly contrary to the state standards that were released in the grading materials.

The request was denied.

Would some of the six students who ended up failing the exam have passed if the exams had been carefully (and fairly) rescored?

You bet.

The NY Post wants you to think the grading process is competent, objective and professional.

They want you to believe that the scores that come from the Regents grading process are sacrosanct, like Mosiac law from the mount, and any requests to rescore exams tantamount to "scrubbing" or cheating.

The truth is much more complex than that.

Is it possible some schools are looking to raise grades by having some tests rescored?


But it's also likely that there have been breakdowns in the grading process around the city and many of the schools that asked to have exams rescored had legitimate concerns about the grades their students received.

Of course, the NY Post doesn't cover this complexity because they're not much interested in anything other than pushing their political agenda - public schools suck, public school teachers are incompetent and dishonest, de Blasio is inept and his "Renewal" program doomed to failure.

But it's important to correct the record here and point out that the grading process for Regents exams is often chaotic, sometimes a complete a mess, and can lead to unfair grades for students (and teachers and schools.)


  1. Spot on. Frickin spot on description of the chaotic sausage factory called "Regents Grading."
    The process is, at bottom, still completely subjective. Like most Ed Reform, the new way of Regents grading is subjectivity masquerading as objectivity. Bullshit. Turns out that a sympathetic read from the kid's teacher was probably the best approach.....the old style of doing things. Here's a kid who is 20 and needs to move on, this essay is a 1 but a 2 for this kid overall considering his work all year. So you and the other graders give it a read and conclude that a 2 is defensible. Done. WHATS WRONG WITH THAT!!??? Turns out subjectivity is the heart of teaching . Objectivity, like in the news, is bullshit and mostly an impossible illusion. Teaching is deeply human work, and thus deeply subjective. The philosophical grounding behind the "objectivity" dreams of the reform movement are shallow at best.

    Anyway, we all know whats going to happen with the Regents scoring. Soon teachers will be removed from the loop entirely. They'll outsource the grading to a corporation. Done. The ultimate in objectivity....corporations with a deep financial interest in ed reform. HAHAHAHA. It'd be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

    1. $12 an hour just like the ELA and Math scoring that Pearson is doing.

    2. If ANY kids passed, it must have been because the teachers were protecting their jobs! Paying for computerized scoring is only logical, with this insane reasoning. No teacher or student left behind.Race to get the hell out of here!

    3. $12. an hour, maybe, and advertised on Craig's List.

      How far we have come, Spiro Agnew said, "We don't need a nation of intellectuals." We sure as hell don't need a nation of critical thinkers and we ain't got one.

  2. I agree with you 100%. However, the issue here is did the Principal get permission to have her teachers regrade the Regents? If so, that's a problem. Otherwise, I see nothing wrong in appealing a Regents grade and have it regraded.

  3. Not just Regents grading is chaotic. You should see the scoring scene at the Pearson ELA and NYS grade 8 science sessions.
    Here in upstate, Questar runs the show and speed (cost saving) is the priority over caution and accuracy.

  4. Living Environment Regents grading was a shit show. Scan sheets treated like crap, exams missing, room leaders who didn't even have a very rudimentary knowledge of content- it was an abomination.

    I had an 8th grade SpEd student sit for the exam at mommy's insistence- her feeling was this was her child's best chance at getting a Regents credit. He got a 64 and we were all devastated- mommy is appealing the grade, and I just hope they can find a couple of points for him. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.

  5. Excellent. I believe regents exams were graded more accurately when they were done in-house. None of this distributed scoring jiggers-pokery. But, again, NYPost must adhere to their ideology, children be damned.