Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Concerns with Regents May Lead to More Appeals
Friday, June 28, 2013 - 04:34 PM
Although nearly all of the Regents exams have been scored, following glitches in a new scanning system, some will be graded again because families and educators have appealed the results. There are widespread concerns that the recent technical problems led to incorrect results for some students.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said she did know the number of requested appeals for the Regents exams yet but there was batch that required review.
“There are a small number of exams in foreign languages that are being scored as well as some clean-up for appeals or documents that were damaged and needed to be re-scanned,” said D.O.E. spokeswoman Connie Pankratz.
Based on conversations SchoolBook conducted with teachers, the city could see many more appeals than in previous years. This year the state banned teachers from scoring the exams of their own students. But New York City took it a step further by preventing teachers from scoring the exams of any students in their own schools, which led to the contract with the company McGraw-Hill. Arthur Goldstein, a union chapter leader at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, blasted the move.
“The blitheringly idiotic decision to take papers we could easily have graded, ship them to another state, scan them, and pay millions of dollars for this process has worsened things considerably,” he said.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has said the scoring problems have led him to reconsider the city’s contract with McGraw-Hill, which costs about $10 million over three years. Meanwhile, the criticism and concern continued this week, as the school year ended but the Regents scores are a week late.
“A new unnecessarily complex and expensive scoring system has put students in jeopardy, yet no one is accountable,” said Chiara Colleti, a spokeswoman for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents the principals.
One high school teacher in Queens, who did not want to be identified, said he encouraged 26 out of his 120 students who sat for the Global History Regents test to request an appeal. He said these students received much lower scores than expected, largely because they did poorly on the essay portions.
He said these students performed well on the multiple-choice section but scored “unusually low” on the essays, the portion of the Regents exams affected by the change in the scoring process. This year teachers were sent to scoring centers where they waited for hours each day until the essays were scanned and then downloaded by McGraw-Hill for grading on a computer screen. Previously, teachers scored the paper booklets by hand and collaborated with other teachers during the process.
The Queens high school teacher said the low essay scores could have been the result of teacher frustration. “For me, it was very, very difficult to grade on the fourth day and the fifth day,” he said. “I found myself getting lower and lower scores leader later on and having to stop, and read two or three times to give a fairer grade.”
Robin Kovat, a teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School, also noticed something was off. “One of my seniors, an honors student, re-took her U.S. History exam and wrote both essays in full and only received one point for her essays,” she said.
Pankratz, at the DOE, said teachers who have concerns about a student’s score should work with their principals to submit an appeal, “and if merited, we will rescore the test.”
Insideschools.org has information for families about how to appeal Regents scores under New York State guidelines.