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Add Atlanta public schools to the list of those hit by cheating scandals in recent months:
Widespread cheating on 2009 standardized tests in Atlanta Public Schools — despite “significant and clear” warnings — harmed thousands of students and resulted primarily from “pressure to meet targets” in a data-driven school system, according to results of an investigation released Tuesday.

Of the 56 schools that were examined, cheating was discovered in 44 of them — that’s more than 78 percent — and 178 teachers and principals were found to have cheated on standardized tests, according to a statement released by Gov. Nathan Deal and first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Eighty-two confessed, while half a dozen others pled the Fifth Amendment, which is an implied admission of wrongdoing under civil law.

It used to be that when you thought about cheating in schools, students were the likely culprits. But now, with high-stakes testing putting school funding and jobs on the line, it's administrators and teachers who cheat. And with numbers like those in Atlanta, there's no blaming this on a few bad apples.

When similar revelations of cheating hit Washington, D.C. this spring, Dana Goldstein wrote:

Campbell’s Law states that incentives corrupt. In other words, the more punishments and rewards—such as merit pay—are associated with the results of any given test, the more likely it is that the test’s results will be rendered meaningless, either through outright cheating or through teaching to the test in a way that narrows the curriculum and renders real learning obsolete.

In the era of No Child Left Behind, Campbell’s Law has proved true again and again.

Proponents of so-called "reform" like to blame teachers' unions for everything bad that happens in schools, but with cheating scandals popping up across the country, including in a number of decidedly non-union districts, it's becoming clear that that's not the case. In fact, although Atlanta teachers have no collective bargaining rights, some of them belong to the American Federation of Teachers, and it was the local AFT chapter that first reported cheating to the district superintendent.

Rather, it's becoming inescapable that the tests, and the stakes attached to them, are the issue. No rational person can look at cheating this widespread and decide its existence is about the individuals, however blameworthy their behavior may be.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When did this happen? (11+ / 0-)
    half a dozen others pled the Fifth Amendment, which is an implied admission of wrongdoing under civil law.

    Last I knew, the 5th was to allow you to avoid testimony that might be taken as being incriminating whether or not it truly was, not an 'admission of wrongdoing'.  Heck, if you are 'admitting wrongdoing' by taking the 5th, why would anybody bother to use it in the first place?  That would make it a slam dunk, just convict anyone who takes the 5th, because they're 'admitting wrongdoing'.

  •  The Book Freakonomics covered this issue (13+ / 0-)

    very well. It analyzed the statistics of testing through multiple years to show where cheating was occurring, and yes they tied it very directly to high stakes testing and "merit pay."

    Worth a look.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:01:43 AM PDT

  •  This info needs to go to legislators (6+ / 0-)

    Legislators are so hung up on this testing data that they are not listening to the dangers of implementing it.  Merit pay will soon be legislated here in Michigan, where Michelle Rhee has testified before the Senate Education Committee.  Her organization has really pumped a lot of money for advertising and lobbying in this state.  Students First was instrumental in getting the anti-teacher legislation passed here in Michigan last week.  No one making the decisions seems to think that cheating will occur, or if it does, then we can just fire those teachers and hire others.  They won't listen to teachers because they think we are just whining about a change in the status quo.  How do we get them to understand??

    •  Michelle Rhee: so unpopular with parents in D.C. (7+ / 0-)

      that they elected a different mayor to get rid of her. Then, after she left, the cheating scandal came to light: the test scores she had cited as evidence that her "reforms" were working were based on tests with answers "corrected" by teachers or administrators after the kids left.

      But do you think any of this will make any difference to the "reformers"? They're as impervious to facts as the climate-change deniers or the birthers.

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:15:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How about just getting honest teachers? (2+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      WillR, ScottDog
      Hidden by:
      Concern Troll

      These people should be fired, stripped of all benefits and criminal charges should be brought.

      •  Before the banksters? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blue Knight, qofdisks, burlydee, drmah

        Or the torturers?  Just curious.

        The two things Teabaggers hate most are: being called racists; and black people.

        by Punditus Maximus on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:57:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tell that to someone scraping by on a (5+ / 0-)

        teacher's salary who's been told, 'Bring your students' test scores up or be fired.'

        Integrity is a fine virtue, but you can't buy shit with it at the grocery store.

        •  Look at the the causes (5+ / 0-)

          Yes!  What legislators don't want to accept is that for all of the testing we have done to our children, it has not increased student achievement!  When so much of a teacher's livelihood is at stake, it may cause cheating.  No, it's not making excuses for the teachers.  Just get rid of the cause.  It's not helping anyone, students or teachers.

          •  Exactly. It's not a choice between oneor the other (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sethtriggs, drmah, CleanSlate

            Yes, it's wrong for an individual teacher or principal to falsify test scores. But it's also wrong (and wrongheaded) to put systems in place that encourage cheating behavior. Anyone who has worked in change management for any organization knows this. Behavior in the aggregate is fairly predictable. If desired behavior is punished, on average you will see less of the desired behavior. That's not an excuse, it's just reality.

            And the motivation may be more than just fear/personal gain. The types of draconian punishment that "failing" schools face are harder on the kids than the teachers in the short run at least - defunding programs, withholding Title1 funds, etc.

            And there's also the issue that many teachers doubt the efficacy/sense of the tests.

            So taking all of that into consideration, it seems almost inevitable that some principals/teachers will cheat. Unfortunately, cheating rolls downhill and causes damage to other kids by implying successes that don't exist. (see: Michele Rhee) But then that's also almost inevitable given the way we've set up our systems so that every school is on their own and competing for scarce resources. (see: race to the top)

        •  so unethical behavior is fine? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ScottDog

          What else is OK? Theft? Fraud? Just wondering.

      •  Agreed, let's stop making excuses for bad behavior (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR, Victor Laslo, nextstep, ScottDog

        Teachers are supposed to be role models for our children.  Are we now saying that lying and cheating are acceptable as long as it helps them keep their job?

        Incredible.

        •  We need to hold the administrators responsible. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Victor Laslo, drmah

          Read the report.  While the report writers still held the teachers accountable, they actually "empathised" with the teachers.  It was the principals and district administration that they held responsible.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 12:37:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Held accountable = Fired (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bkamr

            Being held accountable means more than having to say you are sorry.

            In addition those who were fired or received other adverse treatment need to receive back pay and recovery for any career loss.  

            To do less means a policy of punishing the innocent and rewarding the guilty - a toxic combination.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 01:10:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I just got done reading the report. You can read (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sethtriggs, drmah, AverageJoe42

        it here.

        Those who reported the cheating were harassed and often fired.  The corruption went to the very top of the administration.  The report called it a "culture of fear."

        Some excerpts:

        Wither said that APS [Atlanta Public Schools] had a “mafia atmosphere” and that employees feared retaliation if they spoke up.  Principal Benton threatened to place teachers on PDP’s [Professional Development Plans] for low CRCT scores, and stated:  “We will do whatever it takes to make sure the students pass the test.”
        McGhee described a meeting between Principal Benton and teachers where Principal Benton state the GBI “was putting words in people’s mouths and interrogating them.”  Principal Benton further stated that her son was a lawyer, and that “if anyone slanders me I will sue them out the ass.”
        Principal Davis pressured teachers to get CRCT scores up.  She constantly threatened teachers with PDPs for low test scores.  Everybody knows that being on a PDP means their jobs are in jearpardy.  Principal Davis was a tyrant and the culture at Venetian Hills was basically “rule by fear.”
        Smith cheated because if the teachers did not have good test scores, the principal “would ride [their] back until [they] left.”
        Principal Brown intimidated witnesses in this investigation by requiring teacher and staff at Kennedy Middle School to meet with his personal criminal attorney at school, during school hours.

        And in one school, teachers even reported they were afraid of violent reprisals.  The union submitted objections, but the Superintendent was source of the culture of fear, and she just blew off any reports about cheating.

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 12:34:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Can't agree more. Don't care why, there is no (0+ / 0-)

        reason for a teacher - especially a teacher - to cheat just to protect themselves. They are the ones who benefits from this.

        They certainly don't care about the kids. If enough schools fail, maybe than the current system will be upended.

        Why work to get the kids to learn, when all they have to do is change the scores? Easy-peasy.

        Sorry, all teachers are not guardian angels. These scam artists only denigrate the profession. As do all the scammers in other professions.  The only difference is teachers are supposed to be one of the more respected members of a community. Yes, I know about the salaries, but they have increased in recent years and their benefits are pretty good.

        Friend of mine taught in Philly burbs a number of years ago and was able to retire with full benefits before 55.

        Progressives will win when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 09:36:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The reason they don't listen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah

      Is because it's easier to use some bullshit testing data with numerical cutoffs to make decisions rather than have to think about it.
      Like Einstein said, Just because something can be counted, doesn't make it count, and vice versa....

      Just another day in Oceania.

      by drshatterhand on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:24:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How did Michelle Rhee get the test scores so high? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, drmah

      Because they were Rhee-graded!

  •  Data Driven (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    Let me tell you what data I find relevant at a school:

    Percentage of children living with two parents - my kid's school?  86%

    Percentage of students on free and reduced lunch- my kid's school?  7%

    The school where I first taught kindergarten had an extremely low rate in both of these situations.  

    In 3 years of teaching kindergarten there, I had 1 student who still lived with her original family.  

    How are transient populations of school children going to be successful from the very beginning if they don't have parental support?

    I almost always view school stuff from an elementary school perspective, because I have worked in or with elementary schools for about 20 years.  

    A school like this one will face very few challenges.  Obviously, these are not the only indicators of success.  

    From now on, it's called "Freedom Kissing!" "Wolverines!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    by otto on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:06:40 AM PDT

    •  Here is my school district (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, Abelia, nextstep

      Percentage of children living with two parents - 58%
      Percentage of students on free and reduced lunch - 24.1%

      Ranking among all schools in the state - number 8, 10 or 13 depending on the metrics.  Proof that public schools and unionized educators can overcome some of the social ills that plague schools today, if given a chance and a community that values education.

      The ED reforms that just passed in our state are sure to undercut public schools across the board, both high performing schools like ours and the low performing schools these reforms were intended to improve.

      •  My kids' public school sounds similar in demo (0+ / 0-)

        Free/reduced lunch is about 28% and our population is majority-minority (49% white.) Don't know household makeup numbers.

        Our school is a very good one with excellent leadership and professional teachers who take pride in their work and in constantly improving with new ideas and new technologies.

        It's just an ordinary neighborhood school. Our taxpayers fund it well, but there's no magic bullets. Just good work and decent funding. It's a warm and exciting learning community.

        To listen to public school opponents, you'd think our school was some sort of one-in-a-million miracle. But I suspect there are hundreds like it. It's not some sort of impossible task (unless you think adequate funding is impossible.)

  •  When the quality of education... (15+ / 0-)

    ...is reduced to simple numbers, is it any surprise that school districts begin to act like corporations and fudge data to protect their own interests?

    •  Very reminiscent of the (8+ / 0-)

      accounting scandals that Enron and others engaged in. When you have to show the market gains every quarter, sometimes the only way to do that is to cheat.

      Same deal here.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

      by Dragon5616 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:25:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Measurements drive behavior (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr

      This stuff happens all the time in business. The focus on measurable outcomes eclipses any forward-thinking to the behavior the measurement will actually foster.

      If you tell folks in a product development environment that defects are not being resolved fast enough and you're going to measure resolution time, they'll do what they can to meet the metric.  Then, when it's not being met, they'll do things like close issues as resolved and open new ones to get the resolution time down.

      After a while, you're looking at a drastic increase in the number of defects being reported and making assumptions that overall quality is going down.

      You must be very, very careful of what you measure because people will actually try to meet those numbers in ways most folks who make the numbers do not predict.  

  •  This Would Never Ever Happen In Charter Schools nt (5+ / 0-)

    It's all so clear to me now. I'm the keeper of the cheese. And you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.

    by bernardpliers on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:09:46 AM PDT

  •  This test-oriented brand of education must end (8+ / 0-)

    It discourages students from taking challenging courses that could help them long-term while putting heavy emphasis on high-stakes testing. I'd rather see teachers teach things meaningful instead of just teaching students to take high-stakes tests.

    The people united will never be defeated.

    by alaprst on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:11:43 AM PDT

    •  Or how about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScottDog

      if you must do high-stakes testing, test the teachers by whatever means.  At least they'd be responsible for their own performance and not for the kids whose lives they have little control over.

      I'm not sure how it would work out in practice.  But having a teacher explain a tricky geometry lesson to testers seems a wee bit more objective than threatening spending cuts to schools full of kids from broken families.

    •  Yeah why don't we just do away with grading as (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WillR, ScottDog

      well.  Just take the teachers word for it that the child has learned everything he/she needs to know for that grade level.

      This will help out on all the stories I keep seeing about how Americans are ignorant when it comes to basic history, civics, etc.

      •  If you don't test, how do you determine whether (0+ / 0-)

        the kids learned anything?

        I went to elementary school years ago. We had a spelling test every Fri. We also had regular math tests. We had homework every night. Not a lot, but enough to reinforce what we learned during the day.

        The teachers aways taught to the test or more correctly tested what was taught.

        Progressives will win when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 09:51:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ridiculous observation, blaming the tests (5+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    think blue, Victor Laslo, nextstep, WillR, ScottDog
    Hidden by:
    Concern Troll

    instead of the people who cheated.  Now that is a good lesson to our children.

    •  Okay - the people who cheated are morally (7+ / 0-)

      culpable. But when they've been told they'll be fired if they don't get certain results, and when they're staring at ruined careers and unemployment, let's just say that some are morally weaker than others.

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:21:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And this is why (0+ / 0-)

        "Just following orders" should sometimes be a legitimate excuse.

        •  Did the School board order them to cheat? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drmah, ScottDog

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:27:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Their principals did and the Superintendent did. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sethtriggs, drmah

            Reading the actual report, Superintendent Hall sent up an absolutely bizarre cutlure.

            Dr. Hall and her top staff created a culture of fear, intimidation, and retaliation, which was usually enforced on principals and teachers by some of the SBT executive directors.  Many witnesses said that after reporting cheating or some other misconduct, they became the subject of an investigation or were disciplined.

            The principal who did the most cheating was held up as the shining example and rewarded well and publicly.

            Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

            by bkamr on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 12:47:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Those known to have cheated need to loose (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bkamr, ScottDog

              their jobs and be replaced by new teachers, administrators and staff.  Those who terminated, intimidated or threatened  others or received bonuses based on the cheating need to face criminal charges.  

              Those who did not play along with the cheating and were terminated need to be offered their old jobs back and receive back pay.

              Otherwise, a culture of corruption is encouraged throughout Atlanta government, as well as elsewhere in the country.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 01:04:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not sure how they are going to open (0+ / 0-)

                schools in the Fall.  38 principals (of the 56 schools) are implicated in the report.  How in the world are they going to replace that number of principals in a month?

                Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                by bkamr on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 02:21:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The principals who cheated don't do their job (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ScottDog

                  so it is a fiction to consider their positions as currently filled.  Do what would be done if 38 principals were suddenly lost in a plane crash.

                  Some teachers and administrators with leadership skills should be offered the positions of principal.  Some current principals should be asked to be responsible for more than one school.  There may also be some principals in the area who retired over the past few years who could be recruited.  It may also be possible to hire from out of state.

                  This may also be an opportunity to reduce unnecessary administrative positions.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 04:06:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There's no doubt that the teachers and students (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    auapplemac

                    who were being victimized by those principals will be better off for their removal, but that makes their replacement all the more crucial.  The entire culture will need to be re-crafted with sane, ethical leadership.  

                    As a teacher myself, I can simply not imagine how awful it must have been working in that regime for the past years. And, I wonder how many good teacher fled the district over the last few years?  I know that I wouldn't have been able to take it.  I'd have probably been hounded out given how I don't give a fig about (no, loathe is a better descriptor) the standardized tests.  

                    We use the national and state standards to create common assessments as content teams and do pre and post testing.  We KNOW exactly how well each of our students has mastered the content, and we remediate immediately to ensure mastery by all children. We run real time math and literacy tests using on-line Scantron testing 3 x each year to specifically monitor where each child is on specific skills.  We use the results to track students into enrichment and after-school, small group tutoring in real time.  That's the type of testing that we can use to improve student learning -- not the standardized tests.

                    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                    by bkamr on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 11:55:43 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Especially, when (7+ / 0-)

        those "results" are nearly impossible to attain given reality.

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

        by Dragon5616 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:27:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I heard on PBS last night from a reporter who (6+ / 0-)

        covered the story that those who didn't go along with it were intimidated and harassed and some fired.

        I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

        by notdarkyet on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:36:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And those should not be in teaching. Period. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep, ScottDog

        It's a fairly easy choice.  If you cannot meet the goals, you get out of the business.

        Cheating certainly wasn't the answer, now was it?  They could have left with their careers and reputation intact.  Now they are criminals.

        •  Let me guess, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drmah, Blue Knight, cville townie

          you don't teach.  Your brand of black and white thinking belongs with the Kumer Rouge.

        •  The NCLB standards make no sense. A couple of (5+ / 0-)

          ways in which the standards are nuts:

          1.  They don't measure improvements year to year of a group of students.  Instead, they measure one group of students against the next year of students.  One group can have 15% special ed and the next can have 26% (actual numbers in our school).  BUT, the scores are still supposed to increase regardless of this reality.

          2. A school is labeled as a "failure" if even one group of students fails to meet Annual Yearly Progress Standards on even one test.  For example, our school is a "failure," because our 8th grade special ed students can not pass the algebra portion of the math test.  We don't consider these students "failures" or our school a failure for this.  These students are making wonderfull progress toward self-sufficiency in math by being able to understand money, make change, and keep a checkbook.  

          You can make up your own mind about the tests themselves.  I can't talk about them, by law.  But here is a released example of the 8th grade social studies exam.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 12:58:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Blue Knight, ScottDog, bkamr

            One subgroup of 50 kids can "fail" because of the poor performance of maybe 8 or 10 children out of that group, in the school population of 400+.

            Yes, we need to work with those 8 or 10 kids - with all the kids who are struggling, whether or not they happen to be in a NCLB subgroup. But to paint a whole school as failing based on that kind of statistical accident is crazy.

            One other point I wanted to add - our school is accountable for about a half-dozen special ed children who have never set foot in the building. Their needs mean the district pays for them to go to special facilities. But they still get tested and counted as part of our special ed subgroup.

            (I realize this has little to do with cheating, but I'm amazed at how "school accountability" really works when you go to the meetings and hear the details. I think the average person has no idea. They just know "failing school! sky is falling!)

      •  A teacher that does not skirt the rules on behalf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blue Knight

        of my child is a person I hate with all my heart and soul.

      •  If the stakes of the test result were who gets (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Cassandra Waites, ScottDog

        fired, bonuses, promotions, etc., then the penalty for cheating must be the more severe than getting the lowest possible test score -- otherwise cheating has no downside.

        Any information on how those found to be cheating are facing the consequences of their actions?

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:26:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Whatever (4+ / 0-)

      In many cases, if too many kids fail the one-size-fits-all standardized irrelevent generic set of questions, the school's funding gets cut.  Which means fewer teachers and educational support.  Possible school closings forcing kids to travel even farther to and from school.  More overcrowding.  How does that solve the problem?

      This isn't just about teachers' merit pay, although basing it on test scores is fundamentally unfair to them.  Who'se going to want to teach the problem classes?  What teacher is inspired to teach to the same standardized test every year, even if they never intend to cheat?

      There's a whole spectrum of moral compasses among members of any profession, including teachers.  When the incentives to be dishonest (for altruistic as well as selfish reasons) are too strong, you will inevitably get schocking results like these.  The emphasis of this story should belong on the shortcomings of NCLB.

    •  When rules and laws become unreasonable, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Abelia

      unjust and impossible, they become unenforceable and utterly dis-respected.  That is human nature and to see any other outcome would require Maoist style snitching campaigns.

    •  What would I do in the same situation? (0+ / 0-)

      Sadly, if my job depended on it, probably the same thing.

      Just another day in Oceania.

      by drshatterhand on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:26:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Troll train (1+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie
      Hidden by:
      Victor Laslo

      This is a troll train people.

      Fire at will.

      They're not here to add to the discussion, they're here to crash it.

      Stop playing King Solomon with your HRs.

    •  MsK, can't rec for some reason, but I agree with (0+ / 0-)

      your comment.

      Progressives will win when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 09:45:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Teaching to the test" is not education but if we (7+ / 0-)

    do away with it, what will happen to the profits of Neil Bush's company?  We gotta keep that public money flowing into private pockets.

    "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..." Leona Helmsley, and GOP in House, Senate, and States.

    by Mayfly on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:14:01 AM PDT

  •  Just wondering, where is this list? (0+ / 0-)
    Add Atlanta public schools to the list of those hit by cheating scandals in recent months:

    Clearly, Baltimore must also be on it, but I'd lke to see the whole thing if a link is handy . . ..

    Thanks!!

  •  This goes beyond standardized tests in schools (10+ / 0-)

    I am reminded of incidents such as the Enron scandal or the recent news that Massey Energy kept two sets of books to hide hazardous conditions.

    There's a culture of cheating that goes beyond education.

  •  Drip, drip, drip... (0+ / 0-)

    It's the sound of a glacier melting.

    Thanks, great diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:18:06 AM PDT

  •  This is brilliant. Create a flawed system that (9+ / 0-)

    is incentive driven.
    Allow the system to fall prey to the pressure for ever-increasingly better test scores.
    uncover the wrongdoing, and, here it comes...
    lobby for the defunding of public education in favor of charter schools and school vouchers.

    This is privatizations brilliant plan come home to roost.

    •  The Atlanta system is disincentive driven, which (4+ / 0-)

      even worse.  Your school's students didn't average high enough on the (privately produced for profit) standardized test?  No more money for you!

      You have to run as fast as you can to stay in the same place.  

      "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..." Leona Helmsley, and GOP in House, Senate, and States.

      by Mayfly on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:33:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What is this diary saying, actually? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phenry, ScottDog

    Is this diary saying that because there are tests and so forth it favors cheating?  Or is it saying that there are just some students/teachers that are teaching?  Or...what?

    Plain English...teachers can come up with that...right?

    Okay...call me any name ya want...I'd bet that there are those that read this diary that are wondering the same thing and don't want to look stooopid askin' the question.

    Hey, I KNOW I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, so I'm gonna ask.

    What's this saying, really?

    -- **Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.**

    by r2did2 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:19:25 AM PDT

    •  The cheaters are bad but the tests (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cream Puff

      made them do it.

    •  It's saying that (5+ / 0-)

      high-stakes testing is leading to a lot of cases where teachers and administrators are cheating.

      •  And, the alternative suggestion? (0+ / 0-)

        N/T

        -- **Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.**

        by r2did2 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:41:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, nextstep

        ...that same logic would say we should eliminate Medicare because it's well documented that there is some blatant fraud by profiteers. This is, of course, absurd. Better enforcement is needed in both cases.

        One can legitimately argue that the tests are not useful or indicative of anything meaningful and should be eliminated for those reasons. However, I don't see how the fact that people try to cheat on a set of tests has much bearing on if such tests should be administered or not.

        It does show that the system needs changes to disincent cheating. Such changes may include:

        1. Making it harder to cheat. For example, teachers proctoring tests should never be assigned to proctor tests in their own "circle" and also assume some liability for any cheating that does occur on their watch,
        2. Stepping up detection of cheating such as more extensive use of statistical methods,
        3. Raising the cost of being caught cheating such as criminal statutes with serious penalties and banning of convicted cheaters from public education for life

        Think about it, people taking tests to become doctors have a lot of motivation to cheat on those tests and some try (and, probably, some succeed to some degree). Should we:

        1. Eliminate tests to get a license to practice medicine, or
        2. Make it harder and more costly to cheat.
        When I'm looking up at a doctor treating me in the ER, I know which option I prefer.
  •  Thanks for this, and a couple of comments: (15+ / 0-)

    1.  Full text of Campbell's law:  

    The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

    2.  a non-educational setting to see how Campbell's law works - police work.  If you reward cops by the numbers of arrests made, there will be a lot of arrests with dismissals and possibly even lawsuits for false arrest.  If you change to reward for arrests resulting in convictions, arrests will not be made unless it is a slam dunk case.

    3.  To see how this has worked historically, might I suggest the book by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner, Collateral Damage:  How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America's Schools.  The authors can even point you at 1600 years of the Chinese Civil Service System.    You can read Susan Ohanian's terrific review of the book here, or perhaps you might want to look at my review of the book here at Daily Kos.

    The insanity of our reliance on high stakes testing is a major motivation behind the forthcoming

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:21:50 AM PDT

    •  May I cite another example from a different (9+ / 0-)

      context? Before I retired from the government and became a teacher, then a professor, I was an IT manager at a government agency. The higher-ups in my chain-of-command decided that they needed "metrics" to monitor our customer service efforts. So the main metric they chose was a count of the number of "trouble tickets" technicians closed per month. Advocates of this metric claimed that this would "hold technicians accountable" for fixing customer problems promptly.

      Here's what really happened: Knowing that's how they would be judged, technicians simply started closing more trouble tickets, even if they hadn't fixed the problems the customers phoned in (or had only partially fixed them). They knew that customers would simply phone in new reports if the problems bothered them enough, but in the meantime they (the techs) got credited with "closing the tickets".

      End result: customers became far more dissatisfied, because it seemed their reports were being ignored or not treated seriously. Ending to the story? Ten years later, the same problem persists, because the management still refuses to believe its metric is flawed.

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:37:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The type of problem you cite is real... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, drmah

        ...and I've seen it in private industry as well. BUT, when it's happened in private industry, I've not seen it last very long (less than 12 months in most cases as simple to game as this) when the measured end results don't improve as projected.

        The fact that some metrics are inappropriate does not mean that all metrics are inappropriate. In the case you describe, random auditing of the claimed resolution with serious consequences (such as deducting 50 closed tickets for each improperly closed one and increasing the chances of that tech's tickets being audited) for closing a ticket as "fixed' when it was not might have gone a long way to making this metric more useful at incenting the desired behavior.

        This is similar to the problem sales departments have. If the salespeople are not selling the desired mix of products, it's often because the commission structure is just wrong (although, sometimes, product quality, training, availability, etc are a significant factor as well). Salespeople are programmed by their incentive structure nearly as surely as a CPU is programmed by the sequence of instructions presented to it.

  •  I'm conflicted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, teachingmathnow, ScottDog

    I recognize the shortcomings of test-driven education. However, when I was in school I never did my homework but I always kicked ass on the standardized tests. So the tests were the only thing that kept me from flunking out.

    In all seriousness, I've never had a major problem with "teaching to the test," which often just means teaching the knowledge and skills that students ought to learn anyway. The problems come when authorities over-rely on test scores and treat them like sales targets with teachers playing the role of the salespeople. Reducing education to that kind of transactional, stimulus-response model harms everyone.

    So many stupid people in the world, and me with only two fists.

    by phenry on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:22:27 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry, but I can't help but think this (5+ / 0-)

    reflects on the character of the educators as much as on the deficiencies of the testing.

      We spend a fortune in taxes to educate our children, and it's damned important that they get educated.   There is an old engineering axiom - you can't control what you don't measure and testing is a legitimate part of raising the quality of education.

    I do wish the testing weren't so politicized. Our kids deserve better than that.  Maybe the answer is to loosen the linkage between test results and consequences to schools and teachers, or to incorporate information about schools and neighborhoods -- certainly to incorporate information about the nature of students going in.  A big improvement in a student is a big win, even if that improvement doesn't bring the student all the way up to requirements.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:23:42 AM PDT

    •  The Atlanta Journal Constitution isn't sparing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, Odysseus, drmah

      Superintendent Beverly Hall in this whole fiasco, even though she claims to have been unaware of this systemic cheating.  Superintendent of the Year two years ago, now she's leaving under a cloud.

      This problem has been in and out of the news for the past decade...Atlanta is just the most recent example of it.  

      I'm not sure what the solution is, but I believe that schools, in general, are asked to address problems these days that are outside of their power to fully solve.  Student performance isn't solely the responsibility of a teacher.  The student has to show up to the game as well.

      "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

      by Keith930 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:42:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But student performance IS the responsibility of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        the teacher.  The teacher is not, however, able to control the variables that lie outside of his or her classroom.

        It's not reasonable to compare uncorrected raw results for inner city teachers with those in wealthy suburbs.  Makes no sense and serves no purpose.

        That should not pose a giant problem for evaluating quality of education in a world where computers can correlate a hundred variables and thousands upon thousands of records to evaluate medical questions.

        Apples to apples comparison should be able to identify the teachers and schools who are having the most success with a given type of student and community.  That would seem like a big win, as you can't share winning tips if you can't identify them.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:15:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dinotrac
          That should not pose a giant problem for evaluating quality of education in a world where computers can correlate a hundred variables and thousands upon thousands of records to evaluate medical questions.

          No person has developed this system for standardized testing as of yet. But flawed systems are in place and being used poorly.

          •  Agreed. And that borders on criminal. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            Our kids deserve the best we can offer.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 07:37:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Technical question (0+ / 0-)

              My major question for correlating all of the variables you suggest is to how one can gather all of the needed data for a proper breakdown. Here are some things that impact student achievement, scores on standardized tests, etc.

              1)    Home problems. Mom and dad are fighting. Recent major life event (divorce, death in family, etc.)
              2)    Health issues. Did the kid come to school that day with a fever?  Abscessed molar? Are they getting proper nutrition for brain development? Did they get a full night’s sleep? Mental health issue?
              3)    Do they have some type of learning disability that is undiagnosed and/or not being treated properly by the school system, parents, or doctors?
              4)    Personal issues. Did they recently go through a breakup? Are they being bullied? Are they seated near a student with whom they have conflicts?
              5)    Are they giving a valid effort on each and every item on a standardized test? Many students intentionally “throw” these exams for a variety of reasons. This even happens on AP exams that students are required to take.

              I’m sure I missed a good number of other variables that are both a) beyond my control as a teacher and b) highly impactful of performance on tests.
              If one could analyze these variables as part of student standardized test achievement, I might begin to see the value in rating my teaching based on their test scores.
              Also, one needs to devise a system in which standardized testing does not carve out an overly burdensome amount of time from instruction in a 180 day school year in which I see students for 45 minutes a day.  

              •  A few things to consider. (0+ / 0-)

                First and foremost, the uses everybody is kvetching about are teacher/school oriented, so...

                detailed individual data is probably not that important for this purpose.  

                Let's see --- local demographic data, information re: kids in school lunch program, truancy, etc. could probably go a very long way in refining the outcome.

                And a little intelligence.  Tests designed to to find out if kids are getting the basics are not sufficient for evaluating teachers and schools.  They are, at best, warning flags.  Actual investigation is required.

                But -- let's face it.  If you and teacher B teach the same grade (or subject) at the same school and teacher B's kids routinely go on to Harvard while your kids go on to server up fries and shakes, it ought to raise a question.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 04:13:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I've heard that excuse for standardized testing (4+ / 0-)

      a thousand times:

      There is an old engineering axiom - you can't control what you don't measure

      Here's the problem so many of us have with it: students AREN'T widgets rolling down a production line. We can't just measure "how far out of spec" they are and make a few adjustments to a stamping machine to fix the problem. That's how "reformers" and conservatives want to dehumanize all students and educators. And many of us believe that students and educators are actually human beings.

      I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by Blue Knight on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:12:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not an excuse. The excuse makers are those (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ScottDog, nextstep

        who fear being held accountable for the exercise of their profession.  That's simply unacceptable when you consider the importance of teaching our young people and preparing them to take their place in the greater society.

        Will those tests be a full and accurate measure of the students?

        Of course not. Tests measure what they measure, and we measure students all the time.  We measure them for placement in gifted or remedial programs. We measure them for acceptance to college.

        We certainly can measure their progress against a group of minimal standards.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:21:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is with the measurement. It does not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, Odysseus, Cassandra Waites

      reflect the reality.  A better measurement would be statistics from long term outcomes taken at age 65 of all citizens.  These are generational metrics.  How "successful" was the citizen over an entire productive lifetime?  Success must be measured over much more than monetary or material rewards and include citizenship, parenting, level of skill, expertise and education, innovations, creativity and accomplishment in the fine arts.

      •  That IS a problem, and I think it goes to a break (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites

        down of the original plan.  I recall the original NCLB as being a first stab -- an attempt at a start that would be improved on as experience came in.  The poisonous political climate seems to have killed that original vision.

        Outcomes at 65?
        Pshaw.  That includes WAY too much variability, not to mention an impossible 50 year time frame to implement.

        Some basic knowledge and skills that are deemed useful and important for citizens to master is sufficient.  Less than ideal, perhaps, but sufficient.  There is a lot, however, that can be improved in analyzing results, especially when it comes to recognizing teachers who do a good job in a difficult situation.

        A teacher who can help a kid to competently graduate in some places is performing hero duty, moreso than teachers in some schools where all the kids end up going to college.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:55:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, we just need to get all new educators... (0+ / 0-)

      snark

    •  disputed (0+ / 0-)
      testing is a legitimate part of raising the quality of education.

      That is not the case if one uses high stakes standardized tests.

      •  Dispute all you want, but...that creates a bit of (0+ / 0-)

        a dilemma considering how long standardized tests have been used in schools for a variety of purposes.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 07:38:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not for high stakes purposes (0+ / 0-)

          No dilemma at all. Nobody was using testing for high states purposes of closing schools, firing staff, etc. until very recent times.

          •  Not for high stakes purposes? Only if you don't (0+ / 0-)

            care about the students.

            They've been used to determine who gets into advanced and gifted programs, who gets remedial ed, and utlimately, what colleges kids go into.

            Pretty high stakes stuff.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 03:59:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Teachers were cheating long before (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, Cassandra Waites, ScottDog

    high stakes standardized tests.

    When I was in 6th grade, a simple visit from the principal to observe the classroom would lead one teacher to give her students the following order: raise your right hand if you know the answer, raise your left hand if you don't.

    There were four or five 6th grade classes in my school that year, and that teacher was known among the students to be at the bottom of the barrel.

    Teachers should be informing the policies that measure their performance, and politicians should invite them to do that, but the ease with which some of them try to escape any accountability is their own bad conduct and no one else's.

  •  Nice catch MissLaura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, Odysseus

    There's a whole chapter of the excellent book Freakanomics devoted to ferreting out cheating in Chicago public schools, with the same larger point about people responding to incentives.

    It's high time teachers started getting treated as professionals along the lines of "we expect you to do the best you can with the crop you have, here's the curriculum, now go out an teach."

    Unlike healthcare, setting centralized standards for education doesn't tend to work very well.

  •  Um..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks

    Just when did excercizing your right not to incriminate yourself become

    an implied admission of wrongdoing under civil law.
    ?
  •  What gets measured gets gamed (5+ / 0-)

    Dawn is breaking everywhere Light a candle, curse the glare We will get by. We will survive.

    by MikeBoyScout on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:32:10 AM PDT

  •  The Wall Streetization of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, Mostel26

    public schools.  Except there are conseqs for teachers and administrators.

    Ordinary political process is dead. The Supreme Court killed it. In Chambers. With a gavel.

    by Publius2008 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:33:12 AM PDT

  •  There were teachers that didn't go along with it. (4+ / 0-)

    I was really glad to hear that, because I never would have.  I saw it on PBS news last night.  They were intimidated, harassed and some fired.

    I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

    by notdarkyet on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:38:31 AM PDT

  •  Purpose and Design of Standardized Tests (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teachingmathnow, ScottDog

    Just some thoughts and questions (don't have any particular point of view to champion here)

    (1) Purpose of standardized tests, presumably, is to evaluate schools and teachers. Given the imperfections and problems with testing, as noted in the article, I wonder if a better overall approach would be to use testing along with other evaluation methods  - eg, various types of classroom observation, other measures of students' skills, etc. - in order to form a more well-rounded evaluation.

    In other words, take a look at test results but don't base important decisions solely on the basis of test results.

    (2) If "teaching to the test" produces undesirable effects, then perhaps the tests could be designed better - eg, by making them less predictable, adjusting them to include all areas of content that are considered important if it is believed  that important content and skill areas are being overlooked in the curriculum.

    I'm just an average person and not a professional educator so my remarks may be somewhat naive. But if I'm having these thoughts, other people may be having them as well. Can someone fill me in?  Thanks very much!

    •  Very good observations (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MO JM

      As a person studying educational measurement, you asked one of the best questions of the day.

      1) Really the purpose of the standardized test is to measure student achievement/ability in a broad range of skills. On this level the test are remarkably valid and studied.

       When it goes beyond this purpose (which it is bound to) is when the test can sometimes run into problems with what some call "consequential validity." If I use a spelling test one of many measures of a student's spelling ability then great this is a valid use of the test. If I use a spelling assessment as a measure of a a student's math ability then no this is not a valid test.  You can make the comparison to some of the uses of test today.

      2)
      Teachers that do the best on these tests are teachers that have taught the content that will appear on the tests and the types of cognitive skills that are going to be on the tests. This goes with any test not just standardized tests.

      If I know I am going to test my students on using the quadratic formula I could teach to the test. I could merely teach to the test by giving them 15 practice problems about the quadratic formula. On the however test they will likely be caught off guard by any deviations from those problems they get on the test.

      I better be teaching them a wide variety of applications of the quadratic formula in a wide variety of ways using several cognitive skills. Really focus in on the content and make them see that there are variety of ways of approaching the same problem. This way when they reach the test hopefully they will have practice using these various skills that they may have to use on the test.

      Some may argue both of these are "teaching to the test." But I know which one I prefer.  

  •  American schools are crap, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks

    like most things here in the United States.
    Hay! Obama! Deport me to Canada where the health system works. I'll will even pay you to deport me since money seems to be the only thing here that will get your attention.

    Just as prostitution is the world's oldest profession, religion is the world's oldest scam.

    by Agent420 on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:48:01 AM PDT

  •  By this logic, students have every right to cheat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teachingmathnow, ScottDog

    after all, if they don't cheat, they could fail......

    Or, they could just study their ass off, and ace the test.
    Just as teachers could work their ass off, and improve the class and school achievement scores.

    Almost everybody on this diary wants to blame the standardized tests. Why don't you blame the teachers and principals and superintendents who do the cheating (and, probably, don't teach very well)? Does every district cheat? I'll bet not.

    Funny thing about education ideology: you have to drink the kool-aid to believe the dogma. At my uni, every dept. was supposed to bring in a 3.0 (of 5) average. The Math and Engineering depts. did it. Education? something over 4

    Je regretez tout. How's me French?

    by Mark B on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:58:06 AM PDT

  •  I worked for a company (Measurement Inc.) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScottDog

    part time over 10 years.  We corrected tests for the state of Michigan and New Jersey.  We got packets of 20 students answer sheets at a time.  In one case a 4th grade teacher had given his class the wrong answer for a math question and all 20 had the same wrong diagram of the answer.  I turned it in with the idea that if he was going to cheat he should at least have gotten the answer right.  20 identical correct answers would have been equally suspicious.  It was not very common to find cheating but it stood out when you saw it.

    Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

    by J Edward on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:04:46 AM PDT

    •  What does it say about the the quality of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah

      math question when not a single person in the classroom could understand it?

      •  I assure you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J Edward, ScottDog

        That these items are studied in length before the administration of the tests. Look up "Item Response Theory." An item may have a high difficulty parameter but if it aligns to the standards and curriculum and doesn't exhibit item bias then it may be determined to be a question "advanced" students may answer.

      •  There was probably the 'teacher always right' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J Edward

        dynamic going on: if you think you have the right answer, and the teacher tells the class what the 'correct' answer is, and is perhaps fearful enough to make sure everyone writes it down that way, breaking with the rest of the class to put down the answer you thought was correct may take quite a lot of willpower - and a willingness to accept the personal consequences of a lower score should the teacher's answer be the real correct answer.

        Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

        by Cassandra Waites on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 03:22:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They all did what the teacher told them (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ScottDog

        I was involved in the first two of Michigan's tests and they were very carefully thought out and written.  The problem was the idiot teacher being unable to do 4th grade math.

        Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

        by J Edward on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 03:58:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Anytime student performance on a test is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, drmah, Cassandra Waites

    tied to teachers and -- even if by implication only -- their jobs, it is almost impossible to prevent cheating.  I had a retired teacher tell me the other day that his administration encouraged teachers to cheat on state standardized tests, but added,  'We'll fire you if we catch you cheating.'

    What terrible things have happened to American education!

  •  Probably a minority opinion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah

    but I have always loved standized tests but not for the purposes for which they are presently used.  The first time I took one I was in 5th grade. I did not know some of what was being asked so I went home and read in the books available to me and then  figured out some of the math ... et voila! I learned some really interesting things and I aced the test.  Tests, like reading lists, should be a way to point us in the direction of MORE learning and encourage us to try new things.

    BUT in today's reality ... tests, especially multiple choice ones, have become  punitive and limiting things for both students and teachers.  About 15 years ago, I moved from one state to another and was encouraged to look for a house in a certain school district because they had a good reputation.  True, the schools did well on the test but it was very regimented and discouraged thinking but crammed the student full of "information".  They even had semester long classes to teach students to take the tests that determined whether the student graduated.   Of course, if they taught the students the subjects, they might not have had to teach the test  ... imagine that!

    Now that I am retired, I sub a few days a week at the local schools and it sometimes makes me sad that so much emphasis is put on "getting A's" instead of learning.  Kids are not encouraged to learn from their mistakes or try challenging classes that might make them stretch their brains but earn "B's"  So much is dependent on getting the scores on the standardized tests in order for the district to have funds.  And it is a reality that the funds will be cut off or the state will take over if the tests don't produce the stardized results.

    I can see why the administrators and teachers would be tempted to cheat ... you are not really rewarded for teaching but you are rewarded for standardizing your students and teaching them "facts" instead of curiosity and critical thinking.   Opps!  I/m on my hobby horse again.

    "Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe." Robert Browning in 'Ceuciaja'

    by CorinaR on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:19:56 AM PDT

  •  No Child Left Behind has ruined (0+ / 0-)

    the relationship of the student to the teacher, in an environment that promotes learning, not memorizing, to meet some test requirement. That is not why teachers entered the profession. Granted, there are poor teachers, just as there are poor attorneys, poor doctors, and poor presidents and congress critters. Strengthening the bond between teacher and student should be the goal, not putting up artificial barriers to real learning.

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:22:10 AM PDT

    •  Most state standards (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScottDog

      and summative assessments are full of higher order cognitive skills beyond the identifying factual information. If a teacher is teaching just memorization in hope of their students doing well on the test they are doing a horrible job at "teaching to the test." I bet you ideal teacher would be much better at "teaching to the test" than you may think.  

      •  then why are our kids taught test-taking skills? (0+ / 0-)

        My kids' school is paying a consulting company to help kids with test prep for a week or two before the test (which although it infuriates me is possibly a better solution than test-prep all year.) As far as I can tell, they teach them how to guess. Which is useful but not really higher-order cognition.

        I'm not being sarcastic, but I'm curious and you sound like you know the subject - how good a test of learning can it be if you can raise scores by teaching kids how to "take it" in a couple of weeks?

        •  Sigh... I don't know (0+ / 0-)

          I think half the problem is that 10 years after NCLB educators are still falling for the notion that there is somehow some key to the test. That if they only teach the kids test prep and the like they'll improve scores. I think they buy the narrative about testing instead of picking up a book on learning theory. The best test prep is real learning.

      •  Whoops. Transposed "learning" (0+ / 0-)

        and "memorizing," the former the preferred, IMO.

        I think, therefore I am. I think.

        by mcmom on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 09:49:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Report from Atlanta (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, drmah, ScottDog

    I live in Atlanta and both my kids graduated from high schools there. They did not do elementary or middle school within the APS system and thus were not products of the scandal.

    What I can say is that high schools there were a two-tier system -- one system for the "smart kids" who were in "magnet" programs, which was excellent, and another for all the other kids -- like my daughter who lost her access to the magnet due to dyslexia.

    About 80% of the kids were in the main line, and they got no help at all. They were shown movies or videos nearly every day, never got any assistance no matter how loud they (or we) asked, and were just passed along if they hung about through graduation.

    My daughter required a year of remedial education to be ready for even a junior college.

    Contrast this with my son, who went to North Atlanta High's International Baccalaureate program. He came out with an internationally-recognized degree, and is now taking a philosophy degree here in town.

    He might have been a star, save for the fact that the district refused to recognize his ADHD until it became a police matter (a Supreme Court decision in 2008 would have made them do it) so he couldn't get into any colleges.

    Over all, I have absolutely no sympathy for APS or Beverly Hall. The school board became so split over covering this nonsense up that we still might lose the district's accreditation.

    And here's the real bottom line. I live on the border between Atlanta and Decatur. Same houses, from the same era, both sides of the street. Those on the Decatur side are now worth nearly twice what those on the Atlanta side are worth.

    If you want high real estate values, invest in schools.  

    http://www.danablankenhorn.com

    by Dana Blankenhorn on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:33:06 AM PDT

  •  Teacher think they are professionals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    but of course some stranger who has never met any of your students and never will can evaluate your students on the basis of a flawed test far better than you can.  
    (snark)

    These people are nuts.

    Where there is no vision, there is no hope. George Washington Carver

    by Amayupta yo on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:34:31 AM PDT

  •  How do I reach these keedz? (0+ / 0-)

    Cartman: (holds up picture of Bill Belicheck) This is Bill
    Beelicheck. Head coach of the New England Patriots. He's won three Super Bowls. How? He cheated. He even got caught cheating and nobody cared! He proved that in America, it's alright to cheat, as long as you cheat your way to the top.

    Cartman: Before the last Super Bowl, Bill Beelicheck told his team, "Let's win this one for real, let's not cheat!".

    Student: What happened?

    Cartman: They lost.

    I will not call them the GOP. They are not Grand at all. They will always be the WOMP (White Old Man Party) to me.

    by gbaked on Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 12:52:29 PM PDT

  •  Redstate and dKos agreement? Wow. (0+ / 0-)

    It's a rarity.

    Something that we can all agree on...wow

    When it comes down to it, standardized testing is at least one of the following:

    Standardized testing is

    1.  Ineffective at demonstrating learning
    2.  A cash cow for testing corporations
    3.  An easy way for honest teachers/districts to get screwed, while dishonest teachers/districts cheat.

    Unrealistic solutions for these three problems.

    1.  Create better tests that are not multiple choice, and that actually demonstrate learning.  This clearly will not work because imagine the manpower needed to grade every single students' free response answers in a state, much less a nation.  The costs would be astronomical.  Is it feasible?

    2.  Disallow corporations from making these tests.  The states would then have to make the tests.  This clearly will not work because Republicans won't create a huge bureaucracy of educational testing in the 50 states.  Can't happen, won't happen, and frankly, it shouldn't happen.

    3.  Build in accountability measures.  What might these be?  Switching teachers into different classrooms?  Bringing in state regulators to administer every single test for 100 million students?  Nope...too much money, too much potential for fraud.  Again, as long as you tie test scores to pay, people will cheat.  How many years of stupid reality shows (we're up to 13) will it take us to realize that people will do ANYTHING for money.

    Great diary, Laura.

  •  Indefensible (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScottDog

    While I dislike and vociferously disagree with the high stakes testing obsession, that does not in any way excuse unethical and unprofessional conduct by teachers and administrators.

     They should be ashamed. They should all be held accountable for their actions, just as (I hope) they hold their students accountable. Or maybe they don't.

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