Teachers, school systems cheat on tests

President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program created financial penalties for public schools with inferior test scores.  President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program creates financial rewards for public schools that achieve superior test scores.

The predictable result:  Widespread cheating on tests by teachers and school administrators.  In Washington, D.C., the system winked at teachers who erased wrong answers and substituted correct answers.  In New York City, the tests themselves were dumbed down so as to make it easier to generate higher scores.

I don’t believe in high-stakes testing, but if you’re going to have it, there have to be safeguards against cheating.  At the very least, the tests should be drafted and administered by someone who is not accountable to the administrators of the system being tested.

Click on When test scores seem too good to believe for the opening report in a series in USA Today on schools that cheat on tests.

Click on When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real? for the USA Today series report on faked test scores in Washington, D.C., under ballyhooed chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Click on USA Today series forces look at cheating for Jay Matthews’ summary of the USA Today series in the Washington Post.

Click on New York’s school testing con for a New York Post report on how New York City tests were dumbed down in order to improve test results.

Click on Whistle-blowing teachers targeted for a report on how the Atlanta school system retaliated against teachers who reported systematic cheating.

Click on Ga. gives D.C. pointers in probe of school cheating for a USA Today followup on what to do about the Washington, D.C., cheating scandal.

Click on L.A. school board to close six charter schools caught cheating for a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Click on Cheat Sheet – Under Pressure, Educators Tamper With Test Scores for a roundup in the New York Times about school system cheating nationwide.

Click on How Schools Cheat for a comprehensive report by Reason magazine dating from 2005.

I found most of these links on Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler web log, an excellent daily commentary on the press with frequent reports on misreporting of education issues.

I don’t believe the majority of school administrators or teachers are cheaters.  But they are in the same position as financiers or anybody else.  When the system is set up to reward cheating and penalize honesty, not everybody will have the character to remain honest.

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One Response to “Teachers, school systems cheat on tests”

  1. Campbell’s law « Phil Ebersole's Blog Says:

    […] would be the current use of high-stakes testing to evaluate school teachers and schools.  Click on Teachers, school systems cheat on tests for a report on “body counts” under the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top […]


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