Medium 9780981709154

Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry

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In this alternately amusing and appalling exposé of the standardized test industry, fifteen-year veteran Todd Farley describes statisticians who make decisions about students without even looking at their test answers; state education officials willing to change the way tests are scored whenever they don’t like the results; and massive, multi-national, for-profit testing companies who regularly opt for expediency and profit over the altruistic educational goals of teaching and learning. Although there are absurd moments--as when Farley and coworkers had to grade students based on how they described the taste of their favorite food-- the enormous importance of standardized tests in the post “No Child Left Behind” era make this no laughing matter.

“This book is dynamite! The nice personal voice makes it utterly accessible and enticing, wholly apart from the terribly important ammunition it provides to those of us in the `testing wars’ at national and local levels.”—Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequities

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Chapter 9. MY OWN PRIVATE HALLIBURTON

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CHAPTER

9

My Own Private

Halliburton

B

Y MARCH 2005, I’d been “retired” from ETS for a year and a half, but it had been a lucrative year and a half indeed. As soon as I’d hung up my ETS pencil, the offers for consulting work started flooding in, and those offers were not small. I accepted because I had to pay the bills (damn, that was some Cobra health payment!) and because I was unqualified to do anything else. I took gigs with former colleagues at ETS to develop training materials, with Maria (who was in business for herself in Iowa City) to write test items, and with Riverside

Publishing in Chicago, which had mysteriously gotten my name and quickly signed me to a contract as a “test-scoring expert.” A friend from NCS had also called to ask if I could lend a hand on a scoring project, but the pay was so small (17 bucks an hour) I had to make a serious effort not to laugh in my old pal’s face.

Being a consultant was like running my own private Halliburton: I did what I felt like and charged what I wanted, the

 

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