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Standard-Free Standardized Testing

Life as a chip

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The educational system at present is dependent on standardized tests, and the scores on that testing is vital to every student.  The scoring is done by workers who are performing a confusing task based on hazy instructions, working in temporary jobs.  They are working for a salary that depends on doing as much as possible as quickly as possible.

Education is becoming in this country no  more than another for-profit hoax only vaguely approximating the function it is supposed to perform.   Our whole future as a nation depends on preparing the coming generations for a future which demands skills and intelligence.   If you aren’t scared by what is happening, you are not looking closely enough.

Just today I read an account of why our education is abysmal from a test scorer who knows that the job is a hoax, and the product is embarrassing.

At 30 to 70 cents per paper, depending on the test, the incentive, especially for a home worker, is to score as quickly as possible in order to earn any money: at 30 cents per paper, you have to score forty papers an hour to make $12 an hour, and test scoring requires a lot of mental breaks. Presumably, the score-from-home model is more profitable for testing companies than setting up an office, especially since it avoids the prospect of overtime pay, the bane of existence for companies operating on tight deadlines. But overtime pay is a gift from heaven for impoverished test scorers; on one project, I worked in an office for twenty-three days straight, including numerous nine-hour days operating on four to five hours sleep—such was my excitement about overtime.


If scoring is any indication, everyone should be worried about the logic of putting more of our education system in the hands of these for-profit companies, which would love to grow even deeper roots for the commodification of students’ minds. Why would people in their right minds want to leave educational assessment in the hands of poorly trained, overworked, low-paid temps, working for companies interested only in cranking out acceptable numbers and improving their bottom line? Though the odds might seem slim, our collective goal, as students, teachers, parents—and even test scorers—should be to liberate education from this farcical numbers game.

Many of us are looking for jobs, and of course would accept and do a job even if we know it hurts our whole society.   Paying as little as possible for as much production as possible – that is the main element that the for-profit education industry counts on.  That we are most of us desperate for the work makes that a major factor in the destruction of our country’s educational system.

This is no way to educate our next generation.  Under these practices, ours is as insecure a society as any in existence can become.

Our kids deserve better.  Our country must be torn away from this bottom-line standard for each and every area of existence, or it will be torn away from prosperity that used to be the norm.

(h/t portia)

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.