Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Issue of Rethinking Schools

The winter issue of Rethinking Schools is now available. Interesting articles include: commentary on American Girls money making machine, paying for student performance, and Tom Farley's inside look at the testing industry: "A Test Scorer's Lament." Here's an excerpt:
In the hot sun, at a table beside a hotel pool, two men and a woman drink icy cocktails to celebrate the successful completion of a four-week scoring project. The hotel manager brings a phone to their table. "Call for you," he says to the woman, whose face blanches when the home office tells her that another dozen tests have been found.

"I know," the woman says, "someone has to score them. OK, read them to me over the phone." The woman turns the phone's speaker on, and she and the men listen to student responses read by a squeaky-voiced secretary several thousand miles away. One of the men waves to the bartender to bring another round, and with drinks but not rubrics in their hands the two men and one woman score each student response via the telephone. When the voice on the phone goes silent after reading each response, the woman looks at the number of fingers the men hold in the air.

"Three," the woman says into the phone. "That's a three."

This goes on for an hour and two rounds of drinks.

A project manager for a test-scoring company addresses the supervisors hired to manage the scoring of a project. The project is not producing the results expected, to the dismay of the test-scoring company and its client, a state department of education. The project manager has been trying to calm the concerned employees, but she's losing patience. She's obviously had enough.

"I don't care if the scores are right," the project manager snarls. "They want lower scores, and we'll give them lower scores."