Measured Progress Special Ed Portfolio Scoring:
MCAS-Alternate & Illinois Alternate Scoring Opportunities
Copyright © 2006-2007 Timothy Horrigan
This article began life as part of my page entitled "How to Get a Job as a Measured Progress Test Scorer." It dealt with two special ed testing contracts: Massachusetts' MCAS-ALT and Illinois's IAA
The Illinois info was way out of date: it has not been updated since 2007; and since then the special-ed contract in the Land of Lincoln Logs has been taken over by Pearson Education. (However, otherwise the IAA program is largely unchanged.) The information is still useful, so I will leave it here.
The original URLs for the MCAS and IAA info were:
Most of Measured Progress's tests are conventional #2-pencil tests, but they also do special education portfolio (or "Sped") testing. And they have to hire people to score those portfolios. Measured Progress's "Sped" contracts currently (as of 2008-2009) include:
This is a much more complicated process than scoring a regular test. The portfolios are thick packets of papers, writings, photographs and even videos.
In Massachusetts, at least, the videos ostensibly still have to be on old-fashioned analog VHS cassettes: the schools and the scoring centers have not yet caught up with the age of digital video cameras, streaming video, or even DVDs. The MCAS-Alt scoring process is also much more frustrating than the regular test, since the "Sped" kids are being evaluated by the exact same standards as the regular kids of the same age. The problem with this practice (even though the Massachusetts Department of Education has written some eloquent explanations of why this is a good idea) is that by definition the students wouldn't even be on the special ed track if they were capable of meeting the conventional academic standards. Hardly anyone actually passes the MCAS-Alt test. Luckily, most other states take a less stringent approach to "Sped" testing.
Two nice things about these tests as opposed to regular test are:
The Sped tests do test the children on what they actually can do (as opposed to what they can't do.)
The children do actually produce something tangible over the course of the school year which in most cases does get sent back to the school after it gets scored. (In the case of the regular tests, the kids spend the whole year preparing for the tests and then no one ever gets anything back aside from a brief and incomprehensible statistical report. In fact no one— aside from some underpaid and undertrained test scorers ever actually sees the students' work on the regular tests.)
One not-so-nice (though not all that terrible) thing about the Sped tests is that it often tests the abilities of the teacher's aide who puts a particular kid's packet together more than the abilities of the kid herself. If a kid happens to come from a poorer school district which can't hire a whole team of facilitators to help put the Sped packages together, then she is placed at a severe disadvantage— but similar disadvantages exist for the kids who take the regular tests as well.
MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) Scoring
Measured Progress recently regained the Massachusetts MCAS contract. (They lost it in the late 1990s after being blamed for a scandal where some multiple choice questions turned out not to have exactly one correct choice. However, when in due time the contract came back up for bid again, they won it back.)
More info about Measured Progress's MCAS programs is available at: http://www.mcasservicecenter.com
Regular MCAS scoring is (apparently) mostly being done at the flagship Dover, NH facility. This is just barely within commuting distance from Boston's northern suburbs. When Measured Progress was competing for the MCAS contract, they made some perfunctory marketing efforts to interest Massachusetts residents in crossing the state line to work at the scoring center. Now that the the contract has been won, such efforts are no longer necessary.
The Alternate Assessment (i.e., the Special Ed test) is scored in Massachusetts, at a temporary facility in Waltham, MA. Alternate Assessment scoring is much more complicated than regular scoring, because each student will have a very elaborate portfolio detailing what she has learned during the scoring year.
The application deadline is April 28, 2009 (the last Wednesday of the month). You could apply via a web form — or you could mail or fax in a paper application. Supposedly, applicants will be contacted by May 8, 2007, which is less than two weeks after the deadline. There will be three weeks of scoring. You can do 1 to 3 weeks of scoring, but you can't just do the last week only:
June 29-July 3, 2009
July 6-10, 2009
July 13-17, 2007 (unless they run out of work for you to do)
Click below for:
To be eligible, you should be be a licensed Massachusetts teacher, preferably "Sped" certified. "Related service providers" are also eligible. The pay is not very high: $120/ scoring day (roughly $15/hr.) Training days are even less lucrative: $75/day. (The 2009 recruitment letter fails to mention mileage, but if you read the fine print in the application, you see that you do get 40 cents a mile if you commute to the facility in Waltham. If you come from more than 50 miles away, you get a hotek room as well on Monday thru Thursday nights.) Continuing education credits are available. And you would of course have the honor of being a member of the prestigious MCAS-Alt Scoring Institute!
Measured Progress's Crystal Tenney is in charge of incoming applications. Her contact info is:Measured Progress Attn: Crystal Tenney 100 Education Way Dover, NH 03820 Email: CTenney@measuredprogress.org Tel: (866) 296-2737 Fax: (866) 283-2197
The application asks if you have read several official MCAS documents. These are available on the web at:
Here is a link to an official explanation of how the scoring process works, dealing mostly with the mechanics of the paperwork:
Finally, here is a link to a very brief official introduction to the Alt-MCAS exam:
It is also worth noting that current-status Massachusetts teachers are not eligible (for contractual reasons) to be hired as regular Measured Progress test scorers.
Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA) Scoring
[October 7, 2008] My apologies. This info is now a couple of years out of date— but luckily the 2008-2009 Illinois Alternate Assessment program still follows an almost identical plan. The IAA contract is, however, now held by Pearson Education
Measured Progress has had the Illinois Alternate Assessment contract for several years. This program is very similar to the Alternate MCAS: portfolios are put together to assess the progress of special education students (and/or students with limited language skills) who are unable to do the regular Number-Two Pencil tests. Once the portfolios come back, "Sped" teachers are hired part-time to score them. (This does seem like a bit of a closed system to me.) Measured Progress tests students in the subject areas of Reading, Mathematics, and Science. (There is a separate writing test, which is administered by Pearson Assessment.)
Teachers start putting the portfolios together every year in early September, and finish in early February. The deadline for sending the 2006-2007 portfolios back was February 16, 2007, which is the third Friday in February.
Scoring takes place a few weeks after the portfolios come in. In 2006 and 2007, there were IAA scoring centers in the Chicago and Bloomington areas.
To work as a scorer, you must be a SPED-certified educator (preferably from Illinois.) You must work at least 16 hr/week for at least 80 hr total (unless of course you get terminated mid-project or the company runs out of work for you to do before you hit 80 hours.) You have to do all the work onsite, but the centers will be open every day but Sunday. Measured Progress's job postings don't say what the pay scale is. (If you look at the previous section, you will see that the Alternate MCAS in Massachusetts scorers get paid $15/hr for the same type of work. So perhaps we can infer that the IAA pay rate is in that ballpark somewhere. Or perhaps not!)