Sooooo, I spent the better part of April and May grading English II EOC essays for Pearson. I had applied probably a year ago and hadn't heard much since then. I got an availability survey to score elementary essays for the PARCC test. (I had to Google- sounds like this is a multi-state Common Core standardized assessment.) I was surprised to be contact and ended up turning down the job. It is a BIG time commitment, and I wasn't willing to put in the hours for an assessment that doesn't impact my classroom. I was proud of myself for respecting my time and didn't expect to hear anymore from Pearson (ever but especially this scoring season). Low and behold, about three weeks later, I was asked to score essays for STAAR. So, nervously, I clicked accept, and just like that, I was a Pearson grader.
I decided to apply to score because I was still baffled by some of the scores students were getting when I looked at our PDF of essays. Essays squeaked by with scores that were definitely higher that I would have given them while other were robbed (in my opinion) of scores they deserved. I felt that the best way to understand the scoring was to become a scorer myself and undergo the calibration training.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE?!?!
About a week after accepting the job, I began training and qualification. As an employee, you jump through the "because you have to" hoops like Sexual Harassment training. I kept thinking, "Surely this won't be relevant as I score essays in my own home but whatever." Then came the fun part- training about what TEA values in the scoring. I was pleased that the scoring was very focused on the student- accuracy in our scoring job was key because it impacted students, families, teachers, school and districts. It was also focused on rewarding what the student gets right.
Then came the calibration component. We were given the scoring guide which will be released at the end of the summer. We were guided through an explanation of each score point and its distinguishing characteristics. I printed and marked up the scoring guide and had these essays with me anytime I scored. They were chosen because they made some key, clarifying points. I then when through scoring sets where I read student essays and scored them according to the scoring guide and sample essays. I read the essay, scored it, and submitted. After I did, TEA's scoring would pop up along with and explanation for the score. This allowed me to check my accuracy and the rationale for a score. Almost every time a phone number would show that I could call for further explanation if I just couldn't understand what an essay received a certain score. Further along in the process, I had to complete a certain number of sets with designated accuracy in order to qualify for the job.
The STAAR test was taken, responses were scanned in, and it was GO TIME! This opened a six week window in which every English II testers essay was read TWICE. You were expected to score a certain number of essays each week. You could score everyday but only within a designated window of time- no crazy early or late scoring. I would log into the system and read, read, read. At first I was SO SLOW! It's a lot of pressure to have a student's graduation potentially riding on your shoulders. Throughout the process, validity essays would pop up. They looked and sounded just like any other paper. After you scored it, however, a message would pop up with TEA's scoring and explanation of the score. If you scored it accurately, nothing would pop up and you'd continue on. These papers make up your validity score. If you did not stay about a specific percentage of accuracy, it would lock you out of the system. Also, if your scoring was way off (a 2 instead of a 4, for example), you were expected to call and talk with a scoring representative. I also had to complete calibration sets about every 24 hours before I could log in and begin scoring.
Whew! I'm working about as hard explaining this now as I did when I was scoring. Check back on Thursday when I answer:
-WHAT DID YOU LEARN?!?!
-WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?!?!
Thanks for being troopers on this wordy post. To keep it from being completely picture-less, I'll leave you with our last day of school serious and silly picture.