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Pay and standards concerns over IELTS marking

 
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10902
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:58 pm    Post subject: Pay and standards concerns over IELTS marking Reply with quote

Pay and standards fears over IELTS UK marking shake-up
EL Gazette | September 2017
Source: http://www.elgazette.com/

A plan to speed up the marking of the IELTS writing paper by moving it online could lower standards and mean markers do more work for less money, examiners have warned.

The new on-screen marking system (OSM) was rolled out last year through an initial trial period dubbed ‘Launch and Learn’. Promising to ‘transform the way the British Council delivers and manages IELTS’, the system requires examiners to work from home for a set number of weekdays, up to a maximum of four work days a week. This, it says, will ‘improve their capacity to mark high volumes of scripts at a faster pace’. The new system allows for agency contracts with holiday pay. This is a shift from the old centre-based examiner role, which provided casual employment usually for full time teachers.

According to the documentation provided by the British Council, ‘it is not possible to work as an OSM examiner in addition to a full-time job’, and this would exclude many of the current examiners, who are employed full time. The rate of pay – which has effectively been halved – has also raised concerns. OSM examiners are paid an initial rate of £1.75 per short essay task, rising to £1.84 after 12 weeks. Under the old system examiners were paid £8.50 per script, which involved marking two short essays.

One examiner who asked not to be named told the Gazette, ‘I’m really worried about the pay cut and the effect the changes could have on standards.’ Commenting on the revised UK pay rate, a spokesperson for IELTS said that ‘OSM writing examiners will work in a different way to current IELTS writing examiners. ‘They will be offered a more consistent supply of work and will not need to spend time on the administration related to handling physical scripts. OSM writing examiners can work from home, as they are not expected to travel to a specific location’, they said.

But how can examiners achieve a decent take-home pay? The expected output according to the job description is 100 tasks a day, giving a daily rate of £175, or £40,000 a year pro rata. Assuming that examiners work an 8-hour shift with a statutory 20-minute break, this would leave them with just 4.6 minutes to mark each task. If examiners took an average of 12 minutes per essay, we calculate the payment would be below minimum wage.

Is 100 tasks a day achievable? A spokesperson for IELTS told the Gazette that data gathered during the trial period validates the level of take-home pay and working hours, and that marking targets are in line with fair rate requirements. ‘The benchmark exercise included a 12-month trial period of operation which showed that 100 tasks per day is an achievable target for OSM writing examiners’, they said.

(End of article)
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One examiner who asked not to be named told the Gazette, ‘I’m really worried about the pay cut and the effect the changes could have on standards.’ Commenting on the revised UK pay rate, a spokesperson for IELTS said that ‘OSM writing examiners will work in a different way to current IELTS writing examiners. ‘They will be offered a more consistent supply of work and will not need to spend time on the administration related to handling physical scripts. OSM writing examiners can work from home, as they are not expected to travel to a specific location’, they said.


I'd like to know what this 'administration related to handling physical scripts' involves. It's obviously very time consuming if it adds 7+ minutes to the marking of each script. Personally I'm not averse to marking scripts online but there's no way I'd do it for less money. I'd simply work out how much I get an hour now and mark the online scripts at the speed that would give me the same rate. I wouldn't do it as a full time job though, that'd be mind numbing. I assume they're going to have to get newbies to do that.
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billbob



Joined: 19 Nov 2009
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:53 am    Post subject: Cambridge ESOL Reply with quote

Can't speak for IELTS, but the Cambridge main suite has been squeezing the pips for some time now, e.g.

Bring out a new version of the exam every few years just to make schools and students invest in new resources.

The length of the exams has been shortened (but the entry price remains static or rises) so that a) they don't have to pay out so much to the markers; and b) exams can be done and dusted in one day, so (as well as reducing room hire costs, fair enough) they don't have to pay so much for invigilation costs.
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Elicit



Joined: 12 May 2010
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually online marking will improve intra and inter-rater reliability because online standardization will take place before every marking session and pre-marked control items will be introduced into examiners allocated scripts. When an examiner submits a deviant mark (perhaps over a band higher or lower or more) "the computer says no". Then back to square one and standardize again before he / she can continue with the remaining scripts. Then, rinse and repeat if it's a bad day.

With hard copy marking there is no pre-standardization or control items. Rater error is dealt with in the 2nd marking procedures.

Lose-lose for examiners and win-win for the BC. Not that this is
in any way unexpected.
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elicit wrote:
Actually online marking will improve intra and inter-rater reliability because online standardization will take place before every marking session and pre-marked control items will be introduced into examiners allocated scripts. When an examiner submits a deviant mark (perhaps over a band higher or lower or more) "the computer says no". Then back to square one and standardize again before he / she can continue with the remaining scripts. Then, rinse and repeat if it's a bad day.

With hard copy marking there is no pre-standardization or control items. Rater error is dealt with in the 2nd marking procedures.

Lose-lose for examiners and win-win for the BC. Not that this is
in any way unexpected.


Yes I wonder if the pre-marked control items will have been marked in 4 minutes.
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Elicit



Joined: 12 May 2010
Posts: 111

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not if the ETs I know are doing it.

Another issue is that unlike the good ole days, tasks may not originate from the U.K.. He / she has probably been marking toward the top of the band descriptor page; however, wait until he / she gets a batch of Task 2s from China that may range from 4.0 to 5.5. The daily rate of £175.00 could very quickly become a monthly salary for a while. 😂

I guess I'd give it a go if I was in the U.K. with nothing else on to see how it panned out. Could do some online teaching when not marking to keep the suicidal thoughts away.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15122
Location: Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!

PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the plan to move the marking to those parts of the world with lower labour costs ? We all know the answer !
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