HomepoliticsWho Scores Standardized Tests?

I scroll through Craigslist on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes, there are legitimate opportunities, and other times hilarious ads.

A number of years ago, before I started this blog, I stumbled across an ad for test scorers. I thought it was odd at the time, read it out of curiosity and moved on, since it wasn’t something I found interesting.

Recently, I came across the below video from Last Week Tonight on HBO about standardized tests.

(Fair warning – it does have some adult humor in it and a dancing monkey, but it’s also full of excellent information.)

It’s a huge, complicated issue, but when they brought up Craigslist, I remembered that listing from years ago.

Since testing season is creeping up on us, I thought I’d take a look to see if I could find another like it. Lo and behold, I found the following listing from a testing firm, Data Recognition Corporation –

Original here.

It’s not Pearson, but these people seem to do the same thing. I took a peek at their webpage, and got pretty much what I’d expected: an extended advertisement. They’re a company selling a group of products, so it’s unsurprising to see them leaning on their own horn.

From there, I looked up reviews from former employees. Some people loved working there, but a lot seemed to hate it. Here are a few things that kept popping up in reviews posted after 2013 by test readers/scorers Indeed and Glass Door.

  • Taking time off, even sick time or scheduled time, is heavily frowned upon.
  • Managers are extremely strict about clocking in and out, as well as time spent on breaks.
  • Employees expected to put in lots of expected overtime. At least one reviewer stated they were not compensated for it.
  • There was a heavy reading/scoring load, which I guess is to be expected.
  • There were multiple workers to table/an open floor plan. Good for collaborative work, but this is independent work.

It looks like there had been some serious changes for the worse in this company at the end of 2013, and the test scorers caught the brunt of the fallout. It’s not hard to envision how difficult it is to stay focused on repetitive material for 8-12 hours a day, but the work environment made that even harder. In some cases, it looks like they were micro-managed, too.

Yuck. No thanks.

I checked Pearson out, too. At first, I thought, “Hey, this place doesn’t look so bad.” Then, I continued reading and found a former employee link to this discrimination lawsuit against them from 2012. Based on the reviews available, I don’t think I’d be on board for scoring tests with either company.

Common sense states that the happier an employee is, the better they do with their job, right? If enough former employees were miserable enough to leave terrible reviews online, how many more didn’t take the time to review?

If the scorers were just working off of a multiple choice answer key, that might be one thing, but they’re scoring short answer and essay questions. Those questions should take a little more flexibility to evaluate accurately than it seems the scorers are allowed.

The scariest part of all of this is the impact it has on the kids and their futures. So many of these tests can impact the classes students take, stress related school performance problems and even proper LD identification.

I’m not strictly anti-test. They have a place in school, but they should exist to measure an individual student’s progress, and not as much influence on our educational institution as they do.

The question remains, how do we change that?

It looks like others have asked that question, and used their positions in society to form groups to tackle the issue. Here are a couple:

Fair Test
Americans for Educational Testing Reform (I had no idea the company that runs the SAT test was tax exempt! I had to take that stupid test twice in order to get a passing math grade, and my parents had to pay both times.)

If you’re so inclined, take a look at state level organizations and events, too. I’d also suggest taking a look at this article from the Washington Post, if you want some more examples of people taking action against the standardized testing machine.

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