English Regents Suffer Grading Fiasco

By Amy Donovan ‘15

Incorrect grades and lost parts of the June 2013 English Regents were the results of a new grading system, leaving many students upset with their score.

“I was shocked when I got my grade. I’ve always been a 90 plus student in English class,” said Miriam Avrutin‘14 about the 73 she received.

In previous years, the English Regents were graded at school by Midwood teachers, but last June the Department of Education decided that teachers could not grade their own stu- dents’ tests.

According to http://www.uft.org, the city created a $9.6 mil- lion dollar three year contract with the company Mcgraw-Hill for this new grading system. They shipped all of the regents to Connecticut where they were scanned onto a computer and then the originals were destroyed. Teachers then reported to testing centers where they graded the regents on a computer.

Ms. Janice Pumelia, the English assistant principal, said this new system resulted in lost grades or missing compo- nents of the regent leaving students with lower grades than they deserved.

Karina Yushchenko ’14 said they lost one of her short responses and her critical lens essay.
“I got almost perfect on the multiple choice and a perfect score on one of my short responses,” said Yushchenko who received a 63 and decided to retake the regent in January.

Ms. Liz Bommarito was one of the teachers who graded the English Regents.

“The first two days were the hardest,” she said. “More than half of the teachers couldn’t log in.”

Each room had about 30 teachers grading the regent on computers, said Ms. Bommarito. There were a lot of difficulties including missing pages and computer glitches. At some points it took a long time for the teachers to even receive a regent to grade because the company wasn’t scanning and sending them fast enough.

“I really think the company was not ready for the num- ber of papers,” said Ms. Bommarito.

The regents were still being graded even after the school year ended. Ms. Bommarito said she was getting paid overtime for grading regents at home in early July.

To be considered college ready by CUNY schools and to get an advanced regents diploma you have to get a 75 or higher on the test. Students like Avrutin ‘14 are asking for their regent to be re-graded. Ms. Pumelia said students are allowed to ask for a re-score if they received under a 75.

The regents are also affecting the college application process for some students.

“I have to send in a statement saying I didn’t fail because I didn’t know the answers but because they made a mistake,” said Yushchenko ‘14.

This experimental system proved to have more negative aspects to it than positive, despite the attempt at efficiency.

“Based on that experience,” said Ms. Bommarito, “people would not want to ever use computers.”

The technical problems caused many mistakes that caused teachers and students to complain and wish that the old grading system had remained the same.
“I don’t believe some random teacher should grade our essays,” said Avrutin ‘14. “Although English is fairly the same, each school has a different curriculum and different way of teaching essay writing.”

This year’s juniors do not have to worry about these problems because the grading of the regents will go back to the original way, Ms. Pumelia said. The company Mcgraw-Hill will not be assisting in the regents grading starting in January 2014, and teachers will be sent to testing centers where they will grade the regents by hand.

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