It's Wednesday morning. I'm sitting in an unairconditioned room. I really shouldn't be writing this since we were told "NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES!!!"
Where am I? Up at a school on East 96th street grading the geometry regents.
Back in the day schools gave exams then schools graded exams. Typically by committee. You'd get a room full of math teachers, each teacher would take a problem or two and we'd work through class envelopes. When all was said and done each question was checked by at least two teachers and the whole process took under a day - usually from the morning until a little after lunch.
How does it work now? Each school sends a bunch of teachers to an off site school. How many? In our case we sent more teachers than we have teaching geometry. In my case, I haven't taught math in 23 years but I was part of the group.
We then were assigned to rooms, then questions, and the marking begins, oh wait, not before mind numbing hour to make sure we know how to grade the questions. It's similar but far less efficient. When we grade in house, you can just chug through envelopes of exams - here, we spent almost half the time sitting around doing nothing, waiting for exams to be sent to the room. We are, of course, forbidden from having electronic devices so we can't be productive during this dead time - it's a mild form of incarceration or what I'd call "rubber room light." Oh, also the questions are only looked at by one grader - no double checking like in the old days.
All our papers were graded before we left yesterday – of course that didn't stop the site leaders from forcing us to sit around doing nothing for an hour before releasing us. Were we done? Could we return to our schools to get actual end of term work done? Of course not. We had to come back this morning to sit around doing nothing waiting for the DOE to say we were done.
To all you folks that complain about us lazy teachers - all we wanted was to get back to our schools and get back to work - it's the DOE that's saying no - you must sit around doing nothing - when you see those news stories about rubber rooms - don't be so quick to blame the teachers - many times it's the DOE that's to blame for keeping a good teacher out of the classroom and wasting taxpayer money.
Why do we mark papers this way? Simple, the government doesn't trust the teachers. We spend all day with your kids but heaven forbid we grade their exams. Truth be told, we don't need regents exams to evaluate our kids – we know them - we're with them all year. That said, if you do need a test - let's mark them in house.
Are there grade irregularities? In spite of the periodic story, I doubt they're widespread - and no - giving a paper a one over to make sure a kid got all the points the deserve is not cheating.
Of course none of this affects charter schools - they grade their papers in house. No incentive to misbehave there. It's just those greedy corrupt public school teachers that we have to keep an eye on.
Don't get me started on the actual exam - one where kids are set up to fail left and right - that's a story for another day.
Now that I'm home and back on line I can finish this off and post it. We sat around today until 11:30 and then were told to go to lunch and return at 12:30. Shortly after we got back we were finally dismissed.
End result: I ended up spending under one quarter of a day grading exams and two and three quarter days sitting around all because of asinine department of education policies.
Is there any wonder why I can't recommend kids go into teaching these days?