June 24, 2013
The drawn-out scoring process for four Regents exams administered earlier this month will come to an end on Tuesday, nearly a week after the first of the exams were supposed to be graded, according to Department of Education officials.
The department informed principals this afternoon that some teachers might have to report for scoring on Tuesday, the penultimate day of the school year.
“Thank you for your continued support as we approach the completion of Regents exam scoring,” wrote Niket Mull, the head of the department’s Office of Assessment.
Originally, the department had intended for the four exams that are being scored electronically this year — English, global studies, U.S. history, and Living Environment — to be graded by Thursday and entered into the city’s data system by today. But a series of glitches in the process engineered by CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing company, has repeatedly delayed scoring.
Those glitches continued over the weekend, when the city had recruited teachers to score exams. A department spokeswoman, Erin Hughes, said McGraw-Hill’s scanning of exams over the weekend exceeded the capacity of the company’s server, making weekend scoring less efficient than expected.
Still, she said, there had been progress. About 94 percent of Regents exams had been scored by 1:30 p.m. today, compared to 81 percent on Friday.
That leaves tens of thousands of test items still to be scored. Screenshots that a teacher shared this afternoon showed that more than 20,000 test questions remained to be graded for global studies, including more than 7,000 for the essay based on documents that all students must complete.
And McGraw-Hill’s computer system went down again this afternoon, halting grading yet again, according to teachers at multiple scoring sites.
“Teachers are still grading to the best of their ability, but when there’s nothing to grade, what do you do?” asked Michael Schirtzer, a teacher at Leon Goldstein High School of Sciences who has been scoring history papers at John Dewey High School. “We’re sitting there with no work to be done.”
Principals said they had called in substitutes at the last minute to cover for multiple teachers who were called away to continue scoring today. (The city is not asking schools to foot the bill for the substitutes; McGraw-Hill is covering unanticipated scoring costs from its $3.5 million payment for the year’s scoring process.) Others said they did not want to give up their teachers on one of the final days of the school year.
Schirtzer said administrators at his school sent him away when he reported to work this morning, but other teachers came to the scoring center later in the day after their principals tried to hold on to them. He said the scoring site had only about half as many teachers as it did last week.
Despite the continued frustration, Schirtzer said the tone had shifted at the scoring site. “Last week it was, ‘This is the situation. Just deal with it,’” he said about the message that Department of Education officials had communicated. “Today it was, ‘This is not right. This is not the way things should be.’”
The complete letter that principals received this afternoon is below.
Thank you for your continued support as we approach the completion of Regents exam scoring. I am writing with an update for tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25.
While scoring is continuing today and this evening, we anticipate that there will also be a need for some scoring during the school day tomorrow. Please ensure that your teachers and site management team members participating in US, Global, and Living Environment day scoring are available to continue scoring during the day tomorrow. These teachers will also receive a communication this afternoon letting them know they may be needed, and you will all receive an email update by 8PM confirming whether they will need to participate in scoring tomorrow and where they should report. If your staff is required to report to scoring, you will again receive funding to pay for substitute coverage.
Please check for updated exam results in ATS tomorrow morning, when we expect that most results will be final in the system. If you have any questions, or if any of your participating staff members has an unresolvable conflict, please reach out to your network assessment liaison.
Executive Director, Office of Assessment