Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

How Your Kid's Reading Tests Get Made

It turned out that the business model for educational content creation (in "language arts," at least) is rather less romantic than I had envisioned. Content assignments are farmed out to an army of small-time contractors with some kind of nominal qualifications — stay-at-home moms, former school librarians, and so on. Overwhelmingly, the assignments are not story ideas or anything the like; the basis is grade level, mean word length, schematic adherence to state educational standards (see above), and volume, volume, volume. I think the pay is per passage, rather than by the word.

The result is a stream of unmitigated crap, crap that is unremitting and remarkably homogeneous. It took a small army of editors (myself included) to cull them into readable shape, although "polish" and "readability" didn't seem to be the first priority in the division where I worked. (A major reason why I wasn't kept past my initial probation period was that I slowed the process down by making too many requests for edits.)

How your childrens' reading tests get made. (via)


6 Comments / Post A Comment

Pop Socket (#187)

Test writing is one of the perennial summer jobs for teachers. One would hope they were better at it.

Mr. B (#10,093)

"She could see what seemed to be gently bobbing blobs. After a moment, one approached. Then it enveloped her. A wonderful feeling of serenity flooded Gina’s mind."

I think I need more coffee before I can wrap my head around this.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@Mr. B Don't you mean "envelope my head around this"?

Mr. B (#10,093)

@boyofdestiny That actually occurred to me in the writing, but I decided to get coffee instead.

BadUncle (#153)

waitaminute…This looks like a job for a between-gigs freelance art director with questionable language skills.

joeclark (#651)

Corrected hed:

How Your Childrens’ Reading Tests Get Made [sic]

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