With the recent cheating scandals across schools in Atlanta and Philadelphia, school boards have a reason to be concerned about how they will continue to grade standardized tests. In an effort to curb educator cheating in New York, a New York State panel has made recommendations for how the state can better administer and grade standardized tests.
According to the New York Times, some of the recommendations which were given on Tuesday need no additional review. Others must be approved by the Board of Regents, which is the state’s education policy board.
John B King Jr., the state education commissioner, and Valerie Grey, the executive deputy commissioner, wrote to the Board of Regents that not enough is being done to expose cheating teachers and principals.
Their memorandum stated that in New York, “as standardized test scores are increasingly utilized for school and district accountability and in teacher and principal evaluation, it is imperative that those tests are not compromised.”
Of the options that the panel hopes that the Board of Regents will approve are: barring teachers from grading and proctoring their own students’ exams, and hiring an independent investigator to examine how cheating complaints are currently handled.
There are also recommendations made by the panel that do not require the Board of Regents approval. For instance, state tests will now begin on the same day throughout districts across the state and educators who proctor or grade state exams must certify that they are trained and have followed security procedures. These recommendations will go into effect immediately.
New York is the only state that grades its standardized tests locally, according to panel observations, and this is a practice that goes against federal recommendations. Subsequently the panel has also decided that officials should consider switching their system statewide to a computer analysis of erasure marks to detect cheating on multiple-choice questions.
As for essay questions, the panel advised state officials that a rotation system would allow questions to be graded outside of the schools in which they were given. In addition, the state should secure test answer sheets for more than a year before they are destroyed.
The panel’s recommendations were commended by Shael Polakow-Suransky, New York City’s chief academic officer. But he also said that while the proposals “make a lot of sense,” they will be hard to sell depending on how costly they turn out to be for the state.