Centralized Grading System Abandoned

The New York Regents Examinations have been administered for over 140 years as a method of assessing educational practices and students’ eligibility to graduate.

For the past 11 years, NYC schools utilized the centralized scoring system where exams are sent to other schools to be graded by other teachers and officials.  This is done to ensure a fair evaluation. However this year, the Department of Education decided not to continue with this policy, allowing schools to grade their own students’ exams. No one truly knows why this policy was disrupted, but it was hypothesized that this may have occurred due to budget issues and problems with losing tests.

The practice of sending tests to other schools for grading is about 11 years old. Before this shift, Curtis’s teachers graded Regents in-house.  There was also one year when all the tests were scanned and graders had to go to an off-campus site to grade papers electronically. This only occurred for one year and was fraught with errors. Even when grading in-house there are very strict checks and balances. Each long answer, (essay for example) has two independent graders and if the scores are too far apart, a third grader is brought in to read and grade the answer.

The dismantling of the centralized grading system created both benefits and drawbacks.“Teachers may be much more lenient in grading their own students’ papers. This could be a pro and con because it can help students continue their educational path, however standards could be lowered, resulting in students not being truly challenged,” said Ms. Isaac, a history teacher. 

Favoritism is one of the biggest reasons that the off-sight grading system remained in effect for so long. Ironically, the grading process has evolved so much, with many checks and balances that the system has all but eliminated bias.

“Even though it was disappointing for some teachers to not get their overtime, the grading process was always fair even when done on-site. When teachers graded in-house, they did not grade their own students. On the positive side, this could be a good opportunity for us to get more involved in grading, we can see our students’ tests and work so we can see where they are struggling. Overall I see it as a chance for professional development,” said Ms. Francis, a math teacher.

“As much as I missed that “fat” per session check, I think it is better to be grading our students’ tests. We learn how to improve teaching methods, thus helping our kids. Bias was not a problem since we were monitored very closely by our supervisors,” said Mr. Williams