Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Changes to Regents Exams, Less Trust of Teachers

Among the many changes being made (maybe, if the State can actually afford it!) to Regents exams is a move away from teachers grading their own students' exams. I actually have mixed feelings on this one. It is hard, I think, to be impartial when you're grading the Regents exam of a student you know. I know I've graded exams of students that I sat and tutored one-on-one, students I know struggle and fight for every word. Who wants to be the one to give that kid a failing grade? Nobody. You have to be fair, but boy, it's not easy.

At the same time, though, blogger Stephen Lazar makes a powerful argument for teachers continuing to grade their own students' exams. At the heart of Lazar's argument is the idea that everything on which we evaluate students becomes high-stakes; if we're capable of being trusted to grade senior seminar projects or midterm examinations that count towards semester transcript grades without third-party assistance, why are we not capable of grading Regents exams? It's a fair question.

I'm not sure, as well, why spending the millions of dollars it will undoubtedly cost to shuffle around the Regents exams for grading purposes is available when giving the January Regents is somehow cost-prohibitive. If part of the goal is to make grading more rigorous, then the upshot is that students will need more opportunities to be successful on the exams.

What exactly is the State's goal here?
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