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More Standardized Test Cheating…

January 29, 2013

What do you think will happen when a student’s score on high-stakes standardized test becomes a reason for keeping or getting rid of teachers?  Do you think some may cheat?  Do you think some principals will cheat?  Well, of course they will.  This is just ANOTHER unfortunate outcome of high-stakes testing.

	 	Teacher writing on chalkboard.

Nearly 100 public school teachers or principals have been caught cheating or lying to artificially boost student test scores since 2006, bombshell documents reveal.

Some educators gave answers to students. Others allowed them extra time. Still others doctored answer sheets before turning them over to be graded. 

The shocking behavior inflated student scores on high-stakes tests like the Regents exams, and state math and reading tests that are used to promote students and award diplomas. 

The tests are also used to make decisions about which schools to shut down, and some staffers can also earn bonuses when students do well.

Parents were appalled to hear of the acts of academic dishonesty taking place in city schools. 

“Helping students cheat certainly isn’t preparing them for their future,” said Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union. “It’s terrible. The educators involved should be held accountable.”

The principals and teachers who were busted in the cases received a variety of punishments, ranging from disciplinary letters to being yanked from the classroom. 

Records shed light on the school shenanigans:

– One principal instructed a math teacher to wander into classrooms during an exam, where the teacher gave kids the answers to the tests.

– One teacher wrote the answer to a question on the blackboard while others gave a thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal depending on whether students answered correctly.

– Several school staffers changed student answer sheets, potentially increasing the scores of dozens of students.

– Several principals and teachers gave students extra time to complete exams or allowed them to “make up” portions of exams that they failed to complete.

School officials said the reports do not indicate a systemic problem. They point out that the cases of cheating affect just a tiny fraction of standardized tests that are taken by nearly every student in grades 3 to 12 every year.

But anti-testing activists believe the city’s emphasis on achieving higher scores could prompt teachers and principals to fudge students’ scores.

“It’s almost understandable and predictable, though unfortunate,” said Fred Smith, an advocate for the anti-testing group Change the Stakes. “The pressure that teachers feel is real, and unfortunately we are seeing its effects.”

City schools spokeswoman Connie Pankratz also said the city’s testing protocols exceed state guidelines. 



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