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Poll: Don’t Allow Teachers to Grade Their Students’ Exams

(Submitted by the New York State School Boards Association)

A large majority of school board members–70 percent–responding to a NYSSBA poll believe that teachers should not grade their own students’ state assessments, but are more evenly divided on other test security issues.

Earlier this week, the state Board of Regents approved a series of measures to combat possible cheating on state exams. The board is set to consider additional proposals next month, including: barring teachers from grading or proctoring their own students’ tests; developing a centralized statewide scanning system; and distributive scoring, in which answer sheets are scanned and uploaded onto computers, and graded by other educators across the state.

In the wake of the Regents’ decision, board members were asked if they believed teachers should be prohibited from grading their own students’ state assessments. Seventy percent of the respondents to the online poll answered yes.

But board members were split on whether teachers should be prohibited from proctoring their own students’ exams. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they disagreed with the policy while another 44 percent thought it was a good idea. The remaining respondents were undecided.

They were also divided on the issue of statewide scoring. Asked if a statewide processing center should be used to score state exams, 52 percent of the 514 respondents said yes, 40 percent said no and 8 percent were undecided.

“School boards are concerned with the integrity of state assessments,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “But there is some apprehension about moving to a statewide grading model that could add significant costs and possible delays to the current system. At a time when schools are being financially stretched to the limit and the State Education Department has been forced to reduce its assessment budget, the question immediately asked is ‘How are we going to pay for this?’”

The State Education Department (SED) is already implementing several measures to increase test security.

For example, starting with the 2012 grades 3-8 assessments, each exam book will be administered on the same day across the state in order to create tighter controls for answer sheets and minimize advance discussion about the exams.

The state is also requiring districts to use external scoring, regional scoring, or distributive scoring technology for assessments that are used for teacher and principal evaluations.

SED will also require training certifications for teachers and administrators overseeing grades 3-8 assessments. This is currently in place for Regents exams. SED asks educators to certify that they have received and will follow security protocols for state assessments.