RI COMMISSIONER WAGNER STANDS FIRM ON AUTOMATED SCORING FOR THE PARCC
Sheila Resseger, a retired teacher, education activist, and a member of the PCSP, wrote the post below. Her new blog is at https://resseger.wordpress.com/
On April 5, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, FairTest, Network for Public Education and other parent and teacher activistssent a letter to the State Education Commissioners from the PARCC and SBAC states. I signed the letter as well. We demanded these Commissioners inform us as to whether they plan to use computer scoring for the writing sections of these exams.
As research has shown, computers are unable to distinguish nonsense from coherent prose, and instead grade mostly on an essay’s length and how much arcane vocabulary is used. Employing computers to score the Common Core exams is completely contrary to the supposed goal of these standards: to encourage critical thinking and writing skills; an article about this issue is here.
Later that day, Rhode Island Commissioner Ken Wagner met with our Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. He was enthusiastic about the prospect of computer scoring of the PARCC constructed responses, and made many astonishing claims, including that research showed that computers scored writing as well or better than expert trained teachers.
He also falsely claimed that the SAT and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) used computer scoring. Yet on the GRE, every writing sample is scored by both a computer and a human being, and the College Board uses only human scorers on the SAT.
On May 17, 2016 the RI Board of Education met. Only two people commented during the Open Forum part of the meeting. A retired Providence high school English teacher spoke about her disapproval of the proposed revised regulations for high school graduation, with several diplomas offered of differing value, which would be discriminatory. I spoke to critique Wagner’s enthusiastic endorsement of automated scoring of the PARCC constructed responses: