Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business

Jessica Lussenhop:

Dan DiMaggio was blown away the first time he heard his boss say it.
The pensive, bespectacled 25-year-old had been coming to his new job in the Comcast building in downtown St. Paul for only about a week. Naturally, he had lots of questions.
At one point, DiMaggio approached his increasingly red-faced supervisor at his desk with another question. Instead of answering, the man just hissed at him.
“You know this stuff better than I do!” he said. “Stop asking me questions!”
DiMaggio was struck dumb.
“I definitely didn’t feel like I knew what was going on at all,” he remembers. “Your supervisor has to at least pretend to know what’s going on or everything falls apart.”
DiMaggio’s question concerned an essay titled, “What’s your goal in life?” The answer for a surprising number of seventh-graders was to lift 200 pounds.

One thought on “Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business”

  1. This is positively scary. When one state comes out with 67% of their students getting 2s and 3s out of 6 possible on as essay, so the Dept of Education Rep tells them to start giving more 3s, and not regrade ones already graded? That’s ridiculous, and actually – in my opinion, given how much is riding on these stupid scores – criminal.
    Anyone who has ever wondered how they grade all those essays relatively quickly, should read this.
    I interviewed for one of these jobs in Michigan, and when I realized you had less than 2 minutes per essay to score a major portion of the “standardized” test, I decline the job offered. I was hoping that in the 15 years since then, it had gotten better. It looks like it has gotten worse. These “barely college grads” who score essays at a clip of one to two every minute, determine what schools are “failing”, “need improvement”, or are “proficient”. They come in sick, drunk, hung over, or just too tired to function, whip off a set number of scores, trying to match a “bell curve”, and flush students’ and schools’ goals down the drain at will.

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