Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, March 14, 2011

Minimum Wage Temps Grade High Stakes Tests

Via Andrew Sullivan, education deform and standardized test cheerleader, comes this sobering view of how all those high stakes standardized tests get graded:

Dan DiMaggio was blown away the first time he heard his boss say it.

The pensive, bespectacled 25-year-old had been coming to his new job in the Comcast building in downtown St. Paul for only about a week. Naturally, he had lots of questions.

At one point, DiMaggio approached his increasingly red-faced supervisor at his desk with another question. Instead of answering, the man just hissed at him.

"You know this stuff better than I do!" he said. "Stop asking me questions!"

DiMaggio was struck dumb.

"I definitely didn't feel like I knew what was going on at all," he remembers. "Your supervisor has to at least pretend to know what's going on or everything falls apart."

DiMaggio's question concerned an essay titled, "What's your goal in life?" The answer for a surprising number of seventh-graders was to lift 200 pounds.

Although DiMaggio had been through a training process, he found himself tripped up as he began scoring the essays. What made the organization "good" as opposed to "excellent"? What happens when the kid doesn't answer the question at all, but writes with excellent organization about whatever the hell he wants? Did it matter that it was insane for seventh-graders to think they'd be benching 200 pounds?

DiMaggio had good reason to worry. His score could determine whether the school was deemed adequate or failing—whether it received government funding or got shut down.

DiMaggio soon learned that his boss was a temp like him. In fact, the boss was only the team leader because he'd once managed a Target store.

DiMaggio found out that the human resources woman who'd hired them both was a temp. He realized that their office space—filled with long tables lined with several hundred computer monitors and generic office chairs—was rented.

Eventually, DiMaggio got used to not asking questions. He got used to skimming the essays as fast as possible, glancing over the responses for about two minutes apiece before clicking a score.

Every so often, though, his thoughts would drift to the school in Arkansas or Ohio or Pennsylvania. If they only knew what was going on behind the scenes.

"The legitimacy of testing is being taken for granted," he says. "It's a farce."
It is a farce.

But rather than end this farce, President Accountability is doubling down on it.

So is state after state.

40% of the evaluations of NY State teachers will be based on this stuff.

The tests are a farce, the grading is a farce, and the value-added assessments used to grade the teachers using these scores are a farce.

And many people will lose their jobs over this until some big scandal blows up in the faces of Gates, Bloomberg, Klein, Rhee, Duncan, Obama, Cuomo, et al.

Who knows how long that will take?

Who knows how many teachers will be declared "ineffective"?

Who knows how many teachers will be publicly humiliated in the newspapers?

Who knows how many will be fired?

Who knows how many schools will be closed?

Who knows?

Nobody does, but I can guarantee you that these ed deformers don't care.

Remember, this ISN'T about improving education.

It's about destroying the unions and turning teaching into a service industry job not much different than the job those test graders had - temporary and cheap.

You want fries with that standardized test?

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