As the supervisor of Advanced Placement (AP) scoring in the discipline of Studio Art, I am responsible for administering the various phases of adjudication. The Studio Art procedure of assessing portfolios of high school, student artwork is unlike any of the other thirty academic disciplines and stands apart because of the manner in which scoring is done. The most glaring difference lies in the sheer number of scorers and the subsequent follow-up to solve discrepancies between scores that are too far apart.
A typical Advanced Placement exam, like History or English, is scored by one individual with random double-checks from a supervisor to assure accuracy. It is a good system because there are several rigorous training sessions for each individual scorer who is trained extensively to follow a rubric that serves to identify key components of the exam.
The Studio Art Advanced Placement exams are incredibly different and offer an adjudication process that features more “shared governance.” To begin with, the “exam” is comprised almost entirely of artwork and not essays like the other disciplines. Furthermore, in the decision process, Studio Art portfolios receive seven scores from various adjudicators. And finally, in the event that some scores are too far apart, discrepancies are solved by a team of two supervisors who discuss and evaluate the merits of the artwork before assigning a decision. Since the possibility exists that the two supervisors disagree, an “Exam Leader” can be summoned for the final call.
This system ensures accurate, reliable, and fair assessment at the end of a student’s year-long artistic journey. Since art tends to be such a subjective and personal form of expression, it seems appropriate that the Studio Art method of jurying artwork mirrors the tenets of Alternative Dispute Resolution in which both systems strive to create a sense of fair-mindedness. In both cases, most individuals seem willing to accept decisions formulated in this manner even when dealing with something that begins with the strong notion that “I am right.”
By Herb Weaver