It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Big Stories on Test Cheating in NY Times and Daily News -in Middle of Summer when Fewer are Noticing; Similar Cheating Concerns Across Nation

Convenient for administrators, and city executives, embarrassing stories about schools and test cheating encouraged by administrators are hitting the news, when more people are at summer get-aways.

Sharon Otterman, Review Aims to Avert Cheating on State Tests
New York State education officials announced Monday that they had begun to review the way they detect and prevent cheating on standardized tests, taking a step to avoid the cheating scandals that have engulfed school systems in other states.

New York does not conduct statistical analyses of its high-stakes third- through eighth-grade tests to scour for suspicious results that could signal cheating, like unusual spikes in a school’s scores or predictable erasures on multiple-choice questions, officials said.

Analyses in Atlanta and Philadelphia, among other cities, have produced evidence of tampering on a scale that calls into question those cities’ educational achievements.

The State Education Department released a brief statement on Monday saying that the education commissioner, John B. King Jr., had convened a high-level working group in mid-July to begin an immediate review of “all aspects of the state’s testing system.” Officials said details would be available soon.

All aspects? I'm not holding my breath.

New York state should send a Michigan-type survey of teachers on cheating pressures. See "About the school cheating survey" (Detroit Free Press, July 27, 2011) on the Michigan Educator Survey. Nearly 30% of the surveyed teachers reported pressure to cheat.

And another quite interesting tidbit, broadcasted about nine years too late: Prince Michael I (Mr. Bloomberg) cut the funds for investigations of test cheating in 2002, immediately after assuming mayor control of the schools:

Rachel Monahan, yesterday in the New York Daily News: "NYC drops controls to ferret out cheating on high-stakes standardized tests."

34 NJ Schools Investigated For Possible Cheating:
Officials: Some Schools Showed Especially High Deviations Of Corrected Answers

In Michigan, teachers feel compelled to cheat

Alas, in many western and southern states the school year is starting in a week or two. In these states the scandals or "probes" are getting attention at an inconvenient time for policy bigs.
Pa. Joins States Facing a School Cheating Scandal Actually, this covers the Georgia scandal as well.

And Education Week gives us a thumbnail of cheating scandals in the era of No Child Left Behind (NCLB): "Cheating Scandals Intensify Focus on Test Pressures"

Consider that the policy maker/ media pundit beating up of teachers does not consider the role of administrators. A common thread of these stories is that administrators, not teachers, are the source of the pressure to cheat.

Will all of these scandals prompt education "reformers", media pundits and politicians to rethink their mania for tests and data emphasis? Let's hope so.

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