The latest result of high-stakes testing.
In all, 35 teachers, principals, and administrators were named in the 65-count indictment, mostly under racketeering charges, which painted a broad portrait of corruption, cheating, and retaliation against educators who refused to participate or were whistle-blowers. linkThis kind of cheating has been predicted for more than a decade. But it's not the worst kind of cheating caused by high-stakes testing.
Students, parents, and voters should be cautious about relying on test scores as a measure of learning, especially if they seem unusually high. As Alfie Kohn says,
Higher scores are, at best, meaningless, and, at worst, reason for concern.There are many uncontrolled variables that cause scores to go up and down from year to year. Then, of course, there is the kind of cheating found in Atlanta and other school districts around the country. And there are techniques administrators use like holding low scoring students back.
The worst kind of cheating is teaching to the test. No teacher will be indicted for that, but it denies students the kind of learning they need. The skills covered on multiple-choice standardized tests are a small subset of what students need to know and be able to do. If instruction is focused on raising test scores, it will leave out much of that which is most important. Students may be able to answer short questions in 60 seconds or less by choosing among 4 or 5 given alternatives. But how often is that skill needed in the real world.