While the merits and drawbacks of standardized testing (especially high-stakes tests) can be debated, the way that many teachers and principals have responded throughout the country concerns me. This Newsworks article discusses how several principals of schools in Philadelphia were caught all but red-handed correcting answers on students’ test. Their punishment? Being promoted. Sometimes into positions designed to help other schools improve on their test scores. A similar scandal happened in Atlanta.
Nothing has been proven and no one has admitted to anything in Philadelphia, but I’ll bet that the people there (and in Atlanta) rationalized their actions as standing up against an unsound, and unjust testing regime. Maybe standardized testing is evil, and maybe teachers should fight it, but correcting students’ test scores isn’t a viable solution. Now they’ve taken what they considered a largely unreliable test to begin with and made it into a complete waste of everyone’s time. There is no useful data to do anything with and the students’ educations suffer for it.
“And experts agree that the greatest harm from cheating is done to children– a point acknowledged recently by incoming Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite. Adult cheating ‘impacts our students in such a way that we have no idea whether or not they have learned anything,’ said Hite. ‘I don’t think that’s fair to them, and that’s certainly not how I want this school district represented across the state or across the nation.’ “
While invalid test scores is a big problem, I think the message that adult cheating sends to the children is the greater evil. How can a teacher or principal cheat at the same time they expect students not to?
Update: Apparently Texas didn’t want to feel left out of all the cheating.