by Jeremy Young | 1/15/2008 01:46:00 PM
Ever taken an AP exam and felt like it was testing your knowledge of la-la land? Apparently the folks on the other end feel the same way. In one of the most thought-provoking pieces I've read in months, Jacob Kramer describes the experience of being an AP exam reader. As Kramer notes, it sounds an awful lot like an assembly line operating under the practice of division of labor and time-motion optimization. The most disturbing part:

The head readers contended the purpose of core scoring was consistency, so that all essays, no matter when or by whom they are read, are subject to the same standard. But another purpose was clearly efficiency. A professor sitting at the table behind me was grading hundreds of essays each day. I managed about 500 over the course of the week, which I was told was about average. Core scoring also produces a reliance on textbooks for questions that one might think were open to interpretation. For instance, we would score a direct comparison that said the Mexican revolution was trying to accomplish democracy, while the Russian Revolution was trying to accomplish communism. One might also think that the Russian Revolution had something to do with democracy, but a student would have had to demonstrate a firm grasp of the material to make a valid comparison on such a basis.

It's grading to the text in the worst way: eliminating or discriminating against answers that are innovative different simply because they're harder to prove. I applaud those teachers who make a stand against the commodification of knowledge that the AP forces on those who structure their courses around its tests.

(On the other hand, the money for grading exams sounds awfully good...)



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