Government school teachers and administrators caught cheating

Facing the pressure of increasing standards and pay/bonuses tied to student performance has apparently been just too much for some government educators to bear. As this article (from the NY Times) reports, the pressures they face have compelled some to cheat in order to show acceptable results. This is just one more sad story in the failure of our education system.

Of all the forms of academic cheating, none may be as startling as educators tampering with children’s standardized tests. But investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere this year have pointed to cheating by educators. Experts say the phenomenon is increasing as the stakes over standardized testing ratchet higher — including, most recently, taking student progress on tests into consideration in teachers’ performance reviews.

Colorado passed a sweeping law last month making teachers’ tenure dependent on test results, and nearly a dozen other states have introduced plans to evaluate teachers partly on scores. Many school districts already link teachers’ bonuses to student improvement on state assessments. Houston decided this year to use the data to identify experienced teachers for dismissal, and New York City will use it to make tenure decisions on novice teachers.

The federal No Child Left Behind law is a further source of pressure. Like a high jump bar set intentionally low in the beginning, the law — which mandates that public schools bring all students up to grade level in reading and math by 2014 — was easy to satisfy early on. But the bar is notched higher annually, and the penalties for schools that fail to get over it also rise: teachers and administrators can lose jobs and see their school taken over.

With all the money and resources lavished on the educational system, it’s not unreasonable to expect some positive results. Unfortunately student performance has remained essentially flat since 1970. (more here) Now with more school systems tying teacher tenure and pay to student performance, you can expect more instances of cheating to arise.

John Fremer, a specialist in data forensics who was hired by an independent panel to dig deeper into the Atlanta schools, and who investigated earlier scandals in Texas and elsewhere, said educator cheating was rising. “Every time you increase the stakes associated with any testing program, you get more cheating,” he said.

And more government school FAIL…

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