Tales from the Essay Test-Scoring Business
Then came the question from hell out of Louisiana: “What are the qualities of a good leader?”
One student wrote, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a good leader.” With artfulness far beyond the student’s age, the essay delved into King’s history with the civil rights movement, pointing out the key moments that had shown his leadership.
There was just one problem: It didn’t fit the rubric. The rubric liked a longer essay, with multiple sentences lauding key qualities of leadership such as “honesty” and “inspires people.” This essay was incredibly concise, but got its point across. Nevertheless, the rubric said it was a 2. Puthoff knew it was a 2.
He hesitated the way he had been specifically trained not to. Then he hit, “3.”
It didn’t take long before a supervisor was in his face. He leaned down with a printout of the King essay.
“This really isn’t a 3-style paper,” the supervisor said.
By Jessica Lussenhop, City Pages