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Leonie Haimson, parent activist, worked with a group of other concerned critics to review the explosion of computer-massessment, in particular, the scoring of writing.
“On April 5, 2016, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Parents Across America, Network for Public Education, FairTest and many state and local parent groups sent a letter to the Education Commissioners in the states using the federally funded Common Core tests known as PARCC and SBAC, asking about the scoring of these exams.
“We asked them the following questions:
“What percentage of the ELA exams in our state are being scored by machines this year, and how many of these exams will then be re-scored by a human being?
“What happens if the machine score varies significantly from the score given by the human being?
“Will parents have the opportunity to learn whether their children’s ELA exam was scored by a human being or a machine?
“Will you provide the “proof of concept” or efficacy studies promised months ago by Pearson in the case of PARCC, and AIR in the case of SBAC, and cited in the contracts as attesting to the validity and reliability of the machine-scoring method being used?
“Will you provide any independent research that provides evidence of the reliability of this method, and preferably studies published in peer-reviewed journals?
“Our concerns had been prompted by seeing the standard contracts that Pearson and AIR had signed with states. The standard PARCC contract indicates that this year, Pearson would score two-thirds of the students’ writing responses by computers, with only 10 percent of these rechecked by a human being. In 2017, the contract said, all of PARCC writing samples were to be scored by machine with only 10 percent rechecked by hand.”
Haimson refers to research that demonstrates that computers can’t recognize meaning or narrative, although they admire sentence complexity and grammar.
This,she writes, means that computers will give high scores to incoherent but windy prose.
“The inability of machine scoring to distinguish between nonsense and coherence may lead to a debasement of instruction, with teachers and test prep companies engaged in training students on how to game the system by writing verbose and pretentious prose that will receive high scores from the machines. In sum, machine scoring will encourage students to become poor writers and communicators.”
Only five state commissioners responded after a month. They learned that the state commissioner of Rhode Island, Ken Wagner, testified that machine scoring was more valid and reliable than trained and expert humans.
Haimson concludes, quoting Pearson’s literature:
“Essentially, the point of this grandiose project imposed upon our nation’s schools is to eliminate the human element in education as much as possible.”
Read this well-documented article. It is up to parents to stop this headlong rush to the dehumanizing of education.