Behind the test cheating scandal in Atlanta

MISC_high-stakes-testingEleven teachers in Atlanta face prison sentences after being convicted of cheating to improve students’ test scores.

I don’t justify cheating.  But they were not alone.  If your future depends on reaching an impossible or near-impossible numerical target, then the pressure to cheat is very great.  That’s not a justification for cheating, but it is an explanation of why cheating was a predictable result of high-stakes testing.

The ninth of the 10 truths of management applies here.

If you are attempting the impossible, you will fail.

As does Goodhart’s law.

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Once more, I am not making an excuse for cheating.  It is wrong, no matter who does it.

But my friend and fellow retiree Bill Elwell passed along an excellent question from his friend, Karen Leshin.

Anyone who knows me, knows that in my professional career as an instructional leader and school administrator, I have been very involved with learning, testing and evaluation. I abhor cheating.  However, when I see school teachers and administrators in Georgia convicted of cheating leaving the  courtroom in handcuffs and facing jail time….I wonder why the bankers on Wall Street involved with crashing our economy and costing our government enormous amounts of money, walked free!  Quite the double standard!


Georgia teaching scandal: 11 teachers found guilty of racketeering by Jana Kasperkevic for The Guardian.

Being VAMbused by Weapons of Math Destruction by Mike the Mad Biologist.  Some of the pitfalls of high-stakes testing.

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