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January 9, 2008

Teachers, administrators cheating everywhere

It seems like everywhere I turn I’m reading about educators connected to cheating scandals.

This story in USA Today deals with a former national Principal of the Year, who resigned in connection with a case of alleged cheating and grade-tampering.

Last March, I wrote a story about the Maryland State Department of Education’s efforts to ensure security of the Maryland State Assessments when it randomly dispatched monitors to 45 schools.

The action dovetailed with reports of cheating the year before in Carroll and Charles counties.

Surrounding states were no different.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education sent out monitors to 3,120 schools last year -- for the first time -- to observe the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. The New Jersey Department of Education, ripe with its own cheating scandals, increased its monitors by an undisclosed number. And the District of Columbia public school system used additional monitors. 

State assessment tests have added weight because of the federal No Child Left Behind Law, which requires schools to increase assessment test scores each year.

Experts say that the added emphasis placed on assessment tests has led to some of the cheating. 

What do you think? Are the pressures caused by NCLB to blame for the improprieties?

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 6:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Around the Nation, Around the Region, NCLB, Testing, Trends


My first reaction is to ask -How many of these "scandals" are blatant cheating and how many were caused by poor testing protocol? I have never seen any cheating going on, but I have seen many, many irregularities that come out of poor training/understanding of the testing protocol that is required when giving standardized exams.

However, in answer to your question, I wouldn't doubt that NCLB puts undue pressure to do well on these ridiculous, flawed exams, causing some to consider cheating.

Today, I was handed "benchmarks" from the city school system, and told that I must give them Friday - the day before midterms. My students have never taken a midterm before, and I was counting on that Friday as a review/study skills day, and now I'm being forced by the BCPSS to give a standardized test.

If I write all the answers on the board and tell the students to get a few randomly wrong, am I doing a disservice to the students? Or is it more of a disservice to drop the midterm review and study skills lesson that I had planned?

Frankly, I hate being put in this position by poor planning on the part of others.

A Teacher:

Hear you dilemma. Frankly, I wouldn't cheat on it-- that's not the message you want to project to the students. But there are other ways to do this---we received the same package, and it is meant to either be the final exam for a semester course or the midterm. So we're going to continue with the plan we already have which is much harder, more rigorous. Then use the Benchmark later in the Spring as a review or towards then end of the class (in between the HSA and the final).

We did the first Benchmark in October, sent the scoresheets upwards, but had duplicated them to score locally so that we could actually give kids feedback and hit concepts the kids were missing afterwards. These benchmarks, in my opinion, are useless-- waste of money. Especially because they are designed more for those schools which are giving the HSA in January-- thus, the first one in October had material that my class is not yet working on, etc.

Absolutely - The pressures of NCLB, from a classroom teacher's point of view, are immense. Although it starts with the federal gov't, the state, the local school system, the individual schools, and the administrators/supervisors at each school are to blame for this steadily growing pressure. Isn't it ironic that the people who spout off as to how to best prepare students, how to show significant growth, etc are the very same people who have not actually taught in a classroom for, most likely, years or even decades?

As a nation, as a state, as a county, we are doing an extreme disservice to our students by 'teaching to the test." Bottom line - NCLB actually leaves every child behind. NCLB promotes a learning environment that is unhealthy and unnatural and unrealistic.

In the month of January our hs students have to deal with the HSAs, Benchmarks AND mid-term/final exams. All of these tests take place between January 7th and 17th. It's torturous for students to have to go through this. It's no wonder when they don't do well on them. At the very least, the city should have scheduled the benchmarks for mid-December to alleviate the stress of so many tests at one time. And, don't get me started on the poor presentation of benchmark data. It's one thing if the results of the test can provide accurate information in order to drive instruction. It's another when it doesn't and it's just another test that is forced upon students and teachers in order for the policy makers to prove they're doing their jobs...

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