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?
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.)