When Half-Right Is Good Enough

By Bryan Toporek — June 08, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Brooklyn teacher hired to grade 4th-grade standardized tests in New York is blowing the whistle on lax scoring standards for awarding partial credit to students, according to the New York Post.

“They were giving credit for blatantly wrong things,” says the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous. “You feel like you’re being forced to cheat.”

The Post obtained images of the scoring guides that the teachers used to grade the standardized tests, and discovered that students were receiving partial credit for problems even if they left the answers blank but “showed” their work.

Examples in the 4th-grade scoring guide include:
* A kid who answers that a 2-foot-long skateboard is 48 inches long gets half-credit for adding 24 and 24 instead of the correct 12 plus 12.
* A miscalculation that 28 divided by 14 equals 4 instead of 2 is "partially correct" if the student uses the right method to verify the wrong answer.
* Setting up a division problem to find one-fifth of $400, but not solving the problem—and leaving the answer blank—gets half-credit.

The Post also reported that teachers scoring the exams joked about rewarding students with partial credit if they wrote their names correctly, or shared pencils with other students.

At least one teacher wasn’t amused.

“The kids who really need the help are just being shuffled along to the next grade without the basic skills to have true success,” said the Brooklyn teacher. “They are given a hollow success—that’s the crime of it. The state DOE is doing a disservice to its children.”

H/T: The Core Knowledge Blog

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.