In preparation for the Common Core State Standards, teachers say this year’s tests and the grading process are taking a toll. Some schools, exams include computer-graded multiple-choice questions along with essay and short-answer portions graded by two teachers, on top of their typical workload and with no addition pay. While this year’s exam scores do not count toward students’ grades, they are used for value-added ratings for teachers.
It’s a temporary situation as the state moves toward national academic standards, more sophisticated testing and teacher ratings based on student performance. Even those who support the goals say the transition is creating headaches for educators and confusion for families.
For instance: In addition to multiple-choice questions that can be quickly graded by computer, the new exams feature short-answer and essay questions. Teachers are responsible for scoring those items at their school.
The approach varies from district to district. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, two teachers score each answer – the one who taught the student and another teacher from the same school. They must do that in addition to their regular work. For high school teachers, that comes on top of creating and grading their own exams for the same subject.
There’s no extra pay. The state didn’t provide money for scoring, and CMS officials say the cost – $875,000 to $1 million that would have to be squeezed from the local budget – is prohibitive.
The results from teacher-graded items, along with the computer-graded part of the test, will be shipped to a private software company in Cary, which will use a secret formula to calculate “value-added” ratings of how much each teacher helped students advance.