EMSC Banner for Content Pages. The banner reads, "New York State Education Department Back to EMSC Home
SED Home
Disclaimers and Notices

Small School Scoring Case Study
Grade 8 Intermediate-Level
Social Studies Test

Demographic Profile

Between 80 and 110 students sit for the Grade 8  Intermediate Level Social Studies Test in this small school district. The district orders approximately 100–125 tests, including an occasional Spanish version. Four teachers score this test: one 7th- / 8th-grades teacher, one 8th-grade teacher, one social studies certified special education teacher (who teaches grade 8 social studies), and one special education teacher who works with 8th-graders.



Most of the scoring takes place in a single classroom that the test team leader selects. It takes about two full days to complete the task. Papers are locked in a closet or file cabinet overnight within the room. Eighth-grade teachers are responsible for organizing test papers alphabetically by class period; each bundle of approximately 20 to 30 papers has the names of the students listed on the front of the envelope. Students taking the tests in special locations due to modifications are an exception to this organizational pattern. These papers are organized alphabetically by test site. The names of the students are listed on the outside of each envelope and these envelopes are bundled as one set of 20 to30 papers. The task is divided up in the following manner:

  • Multiple choice – scored by hand by special education teacher; the M/C sheets are obtained from the local BOCES (RIC center)

  • CRQ – scored by the social studies teachers together

  • DBQ scaffolding – scored by the social studies teachers together

  • DBQ essay – scored by the social studies teachers together

  • The team leader resolves scoring discrepancies.


The New York State Intermediate-Level Social Studies Test Manual for Administrators and Teachers is obtained from the administration or online from the NYSED website: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/osa/sam/.  It is reviewed by each of the 8th-grade teachers. A list of students taking the exam is created by the 8th-grade teachers and put on the front of each of the envelopes in which the students’ papers are located. All of the teachers work together. One 8th-grade teacher, designated by the principal as test team leader, coordinates the work. Rating sheets are filled out by the teachers and attached to the bundles of papers. The 8th-grade teachers keep track of the final record sheets.

After the test is given, raters are given the official rating guide and asked to review the rating guide and the test for training the next day. The principal or his/her designee determines the proctoring schedule for raters. The rating of State exams in teams is built into the schedule as a proctoring duty; information as to when the rating will take place must be provided to the person creating the proctoring schedule in March. The 8th-grade teachers as a team determine how the papers will be processed.



Training is provided to calibrate the tasks (CRQ, DBQ, scaffolding, DBQ Essay). The NYSED rating guide is reviewed for each section. For the DBQ essay, two hours are designated at the beginning of the scoring session to discuss any issues related to the rating guides. Alternative answers are brainstormed. NYSED is contacted, if in our professional judgment, something from our brainstormed answers or student responses does not fit within the NYSED guidelines or if we need clarification. The person designated by the principal makes the phone call.

Papers are organized and read according to NYSED regulations. The papers are sorted and bundled by class period. The bundles are moved between the teachers. As one teacher in the pair completes a bundle, it is handed to another teacher in the pair. Rating sheets are kept rubber-banded to the bottom of the envelope.

If two raters have conflicting scores of more than one point, the paper is pulled from the bundle and placed on top of the envelope, the rating process is stopped, and a teacher outside the pair rating that paper then reads and rates it. While the writing portions of the assessment are being rated, a special education teacher hand-scores the multiple choice section.

The 8th-grade teachers do the final tabulations. All scores (M/C, CRQ, DBQ scaffolding, DBQ essay) are recorded by each 8th-grade teacher in the spaces provided on the student’s answer sheet provided by the local BOCES (RIC center). The conversion chart for the test being administered is obtained online from the NYSED website: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/osa/ 
The conversion chart is used to determine the student’s final score.


Post-scoring Activities

Eighth-grade teachers record the grades for their students and fill out the report card information according to school policy. Information is given to the guidance office for any student who has failed the State assessment and/or the course.

The BOCES (RIC center) answer sheets that have the student’s multiple choice answers on the front and scores for the CRQs, DBQ scaffolding, and DBQ essay on the back are alphabetically organized by class and given to the guidance office by the test team leader. The assessment papers are tied in a bundle and given to the school secretary to be checked in and stored. The assessment papers are stored for one year in the basement of the school.

During a debriefing session, a discussion is held to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the scoring process to make it go more smoothly. At this time, teachers fill out the State’s test evaluation forms. The guidance office requests an item analysis of the M/C questions to determine where students were experiencing difficulty. This information is shared with the 7th- and 8th-grade teachers and is used to inform instruction at both the 7th- and 8th-grade level. The scores from the CRQs, DBQ scaffolding, and DBQ essay 7th- and 8th-grade level are analyzed to determine changes that need to be made to instruction at the 7th- and 8th-grade level as well.

The names of students who score a level "1" or level "2" on the exam are given to the guidance office so that these students can be placed in AIS.

If the papers are called in by NYSED, the principal is responsible for returning the papers to NYSED.


Back to New York State Social Studies Assessment