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Nearly 30% of Teachers Report Pressure to Cheat…

July 27, 2011

Interesting article in the Detroit Free Press titled: Nearly 30% of Michigan Teachers Report Pressure to Cheat.  This is the inevitable outcome of high-stakes testing schemes.  Test tampering has appeared in numerous states: Michigan, Delaware, Washington DC, Georgia, and I am sure there are more out there.

The interesting thing about this article is that it is a survey where teachers were questioned about how they felt pressure to remake grades.  I have to admit that at my school I was NEVER pressured to do anything untoward with regard to test scores, but we all feel the pressure to have our students score as high as possible especially if you are in a PI, or Program Improvement school.

One out of three public school educators report pressure from bosses, parents or others to change grades, and nearly 30% say pressure to cheat on standardized tests is a problem at their school, according to a voluntary Free Press survey of Michigan educators.

At schools that don’t meet federal standards, the tension is higher: About 50% say pressure to change grades is an issue, and 46% say pressure to cheat on the tests is a problem.

Some cave in — about 8% say they changed grades within the last school year, and at least 8% admit to some form of cheating to improve a student’s standardized test score.

The survey results show the pressures on educators as the state moves toward making student progress and test scores a major factor in teacher evaluations starting in 2013. The comments left by survey-takers reveal frustration with reliance on standardized tests to judge both students and teachers.

The Free Press conducted the survey of members of the Michigan Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan and the Detroit Federation of Teachers in May and June. More than 3,000 educators responded, about a 6% participation rate, similar to that of a voluntary cheating survey by Arizona State University that was published in an education journal last year.

The survey was conducted after Free Press reports this year revealed allegations ofgrade-fixing at one Detroit school and suspected cheating on state tests at nearly three dozen other schools with statistically improbable one-year improvements in test scores.

Teacher pay tied to test scores turns up the heat

Vickie Orr-Gale, a teacher at Marshall Elementary in Detroit, said she doesn’t know anything about cheating going on at her school, but she does know that pressure to perform on high-stakes standardized tests generally tempts the weak to cheat, ignites scandals and hurts morale.

“All over the country they’re pressuring people to do better on these standardized tests, but we need to figure out another way” to measure student and teacher performance, said Orr-Gale, who has taught for 37 years.

I recommend that my readers take the link to the article above, there is a lot more at the Detroit Free Press site on this topic that makes for a good read especially if you are a teacher, or are concerned about the education policies in this country.


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