How Common Core tests are scored: PARCC and Pearson graders can shoot for 60 answers per hour

Grading a student answer each minute could easily be overwhelming for the 121 graders at Pearson Inc.'s Ohio scoring center for the new Common Core exams from PARCC.

But this operation in a suburban office complex outside Columbus is a very focused assembly line operation: Scoring 55 to 80 answers an hour is no problem for most.

"I feel like I've been doing well," said scorer Launica Jones, who previously worked as a substitute teacher in both Cleveland and Columbus and started grading PARCC exams last month. "I've actually been told to slow down a few times."

It's a pace that works here, partly because the dozens of full-time graders in Ohio spend their eight-hour shifts focused on just third grade math tests. If your third grader took the PARCC math exams this spring, there's a good chance that one of their answers was scored a laptop here at this Westerville office.

They don't grade English here this year and don't score any other grades either. Those are for the other dozen PARCC scoring centers to worry about. (The pace for English essay questions is a bit slower, but still quick: 17-19 per hour for high school exams.)

Graders don't score whole tests. They work with just one question at a time, grading that single question a few hundred times a day.

And each grader has been drilled several times in how students should answer that particular question before they start.

Michelle Kohlhorst said she has also managed the speed just fine. Since starting as a full-time grader April 13, she has scored a succession of five third grade math questions. Each time, she said, she and other graders pick up speed the more they work with a new question.

"When we first start training on an item, I think, 'Whoa! This is confusing'," Kohlhurst said. "The more we talk about it and go through training, it gets a little easier."

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