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Diane Ravitch: NCLB Law Responsible for Atlanta Cheating Scandal

July 9, 2011

Diane Ravith on NCLB

Diane Ravitch, in the above clip on CBS News states the obvious, namely: the No Child Left Behind law is responsible for the cheating scandals that have broken out in school districts around the country.  The most recent that come to mind are the scandals in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.  The argument is that there is so much pressure to raise test scores that individuals with a vested interest resort to cheating to maintain their jobs.  I am a teacher in San Diego and we have very strict protocols for teachers with regard to the CST exams given every year, but I could see how a determined administrative staff could go about attempting to change grades.  For example: I sign my test booklets and answer sheets in and out each day to admin at our school site, and my responsibility for the day is done.  What they do with the tests and answer sheets after that point is up to them.  I haven’t read of a cheating scandal in California yet but if enough pressure comes down on administrators who knows what could happen.

I believe that Diane has a great point when she intimates that the NCLB law actually incentivizes cheating.  As a country we need to move away from high-stakes testing which has caused so much frustration in school districts.  At the same time because of NCLB kids have lost the ability to go to Art classes, Music classes, second language classes, wood-shop, metal-shop, and all manner of other vocational classes, all in the name of raising test scores.  It is a damn shame.


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  1. Grace Valentine permalink

    The kind of counter-productive competition caused by imposing market-values, or corporate models as Ravitch calls them on learning institutions will cause schools to act like Wall Street, not exactly the crown jewel in humanity’s crown in terms of ethical conduct.

    When we see competition out of balance in our students, we see bullying, often with tragic if not fatal results. If teachers and school administrators engage in cut-throat competition, then the figures for workplace bullying of teachers will rise from a reported 35% to something akin to the attrition rate for new teachers who leave the profession, often, some say always, because established teachers and professional administrators resent or fear them.

    • Whenever a “corporate” business model top down approach, like NCLB, is applied to real people working with real kids who have all kinds of problems ranging from poverty, to hunger, to violence, you are going to “lose” students. It is a shame that this is the way that education is moving but good dedicated people and smart voting and the right political pressure can change the current trajectory.

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