It Appears That Children Are Not The Only Ones Who Cheat

The pressures of high stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, and Race to The Top has created enormous pressure on school administrators and teachers to cheat on high stakes tests.  The latest case in point was in Hopeville Elementary School in Waterbury, Connecticut.  Ten years ago,  that the low performing school had achieved a perfect 100% proficiency on the Connecticut Mastery Test.  The error was caught by thee Republican-American newspaper in July.

Hopeville joins the infamous list of schools in:

–  Atlanta where 178 teachers and principals were caught in a state  investigation of tampering with tests.  Investigators found that there existed a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” under Superintendent Beverly Hall.

–  Georgia’s Dougherty County 11 schools were accused of cheating on student test scores.

–   the Camden, NJ school system which paid a former high school principal who claimed his superiors forced him to alter student test scores.  New Jersey Education Department officials are investigating an additional 34 schools where there were high rates of wrong-to-right erasures.

   – Washington DC where a federal probe found high erasure rates on math and reading examinations.  A USA TODAY probe has raised doubts about scores in 100 more schools.

    –  Similar investigations have been conducted in New York City, parts of New York State and Philadelphia.

I do not condone cheating whether it is done by students, teachers or school administrators.  But the federal and state emphasis on high stakes tests as the way to raise achievement and to tie teacher and administrators’ salaries  and job-performance to student test scores, makes little sense.  It is interesting to note that Michelle Rhee, former school superintendent of Washington, DC has convinced the state legislatures in Michigan and Nevada to overhaul teacher evaluations based on high stakes tests.  This is the same Michelle Rhee who is being investigated by the D.C.’s inspector general for high erasure rates on standardized tests during her tenure.

Cheating on tests results in students without qualifications being passed through and penalizes those students who actually legitimately passed the examinations.  Unless we can get a fair assessment of their abilities , we must give serious reservations to high stakes examinations.