Your comments: Cheating widespread?
March 30th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Your comments: Cheating widespread?

by the Schools of Thought Editors

(CNN) - This week we reported on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigation into possible nationwide cheating on standardized tests.

Read: Report: Test cheating may be widespread.

There were hundreds of comments on this story, many of them focused on different aspects of this story, from security, to teacher evaluation, to No Child Left Behind pressure, to flaws in our culture. Here’s a sampling of what was posted, edited for length and clarity:

WhatNow said:I  know people want accountability in schools, however, when you tie test scores to a teachers’ job security, you set the groundwork for problems. Once upon a time, we used the bell-shaped curve to decide if a teacher was doing their job. For those who don't know, that meant we actually expected some students to excel, most would be average and some would even fail. Somewhere along the line, we decided that all should be passing with high grades. If not, it must be the teachers’ fault. Why? Not everyone will be great in school. Not everyone deserves an A. Everyone deserves the opportunity to an education. This does not mean that all will be successful. We need a new way to evaluate teachers.”

Leila said: “If test scores are tied to job security, we will see many more cases of cheating, especially in underserved school districts where people live below the poverty line, where many kids live in motels rather than real homes, and where many kids are living with relatives because CPS intervened or parents are incarcerated. Exaggeration? No. This is reality. It is a challenge to motivate kids who come to school sick, are battling with domestic issues, and poverty. Try teaching the art of persuasive writing, proper diction, syntax, sophisticated vocabulary and compound sentences to kids who quite frankly have far more important and life threatening issues to deal with when 3:00 comes around. In my school, we are not only educators, but we are counselors, listeners, advisers, and sometimes protectors. There ARE other factors out there involved in educating our at-risk, underperforming students.”

kls817 said: “Maybe we need to keep the tests out of the hands of the teachers, who might be tempted to edit them. Have a third party administer and collect the tests. This does involve a small amount of additional head count, but it is needed.”

Solex said:You are a teacher making $38,000 a year. Your budget has been slashed and slashed and slashed until you have almost ZERO resources. Your classes are twice the size they should be. Now you are told that unless at least 65% of your class passes the standardized tests you are out of a job. So you cheat a little to make sure you stay employed and also hope to help as many kids as you can. I may not condone what they did, but I do understand their reasoning.”

Rob said:I'm seeing a lot of people here pointing fingers at teachers, parents, unions etc., but none of that is relevant. The problem is in the very system itself that creates strong incentives for teachers and administrators to cheat... As a college professor, I can tell you that what we need are not more kids who can succeed on standardized tests. We need more kids who have been taught to think and reason, and who have mastered the fundamental skills of writing and mathematics. Those things will never happen under our current system.”

keith1952 said:You don't have to teach to the test if the test is over the curriculum that is supposed to be covered in the school year.”

Michael said:As a teacher, I'm struck by the fact that most of the people who have commented on this story seem to ‘get it.’ Why then, as a society, do we put in place systems which totally defy logic?”

Dan said:Occam's razor says that the simplest possible explanation is the most likely. Instead of assuming a huge rash of uncoordinated cheating, why is there no discussion about the testing system as a judgment of student growth being a broken system? That is a simple explanation that covers all bases. While some cheating on testing, as with any enterprise, may occur, it seems unlikely that such cheating would be as widespread and endemic as suggested in this article.”

Grob Hahn said:I get so tired of hearing how the parents should share equal parts of the ‘blame’ in this game of government school control. Like it or not, most parents are not particularly good at teaching or we wouldn't need schools at all. You have our children for eight hours a day, we have them for what, four or so? How about we parents only catch one-third of the ‘blame’ or even one-sixth (since we aren't professionally trained educators like YOU!) Or, we could simply consider the children as a priority instead of all the other crap school systems juggle to stay relevant...”

MDH said: “What does this high level of cheating say about the moral standing of our society? If teachers and administrators cheat on such a high level, no one can be trusted. Everyone is focused on greed and self-preservation. We are heading into a very dim future. There is no way to hold students accountable for their acts, when the adults are the real crooks.”

Stephen said:Anytime you have teachers union members administering tests you can expect that there will be cheating. Teachers unions aren't concerned about the business of educating kids they are concerned about the education business. In the education business it is perfectly acceptable to cheat if it will result in higher pay and benefits. The business of educating kids is a dying concept because of the emphasis of teachers unions being on the education business. Higher pay and benefits trumps higher test scores and graduation rates. Therefore one must cheat. Justified, right! Not really but that is the concept being pushed by the union bosses.”

Devils Advocate said:  “This is because of the No Child Left Behind act. While this sounds good on paper, if everyone can/should pass the test then the test is too easy. The test scores should follow a bell curve like IQ scores do.”

Eroteme said:Our new culture: There is nothing wrong with a little cheating, cheating to achieve a worthy goal.Everyone does it, why shouldn't I?  Nothing wrong with cheating so long as it is done honestly.”

O.T. said:I've seen the results of No Child Left Behind in the classroom. These standardized tests were neutron bombs that destroyed learning but left the buildings standing.”

NC Guy said:Just convert to online testing. The teacher doesn't see the tests before the students take it. Problem solved. Or, create and offer an effective method of online teaching. Kids like technology and they like staring at a computer more than a blackboard or a book. We should use that fact to our advantage.”

No you-know-what Sherlock! said:So... test cheating may be widespread. Ya think?”

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Filed under: Cheating • Policy • Practice • Testing • Voices
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    Years ago, I reported standardized test irregularities by the ESL dept.with my homeroom students. My superior blew me off!! This probably happens a LOT.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  21. Mary

    When I was in school, grammar school and high school, I cheated every chance I had. In every subject, in every class. Cheating is like a rite of passage. Tests aren;t usually designed to show what you "learned", only what you "memorized", If a teacher is good at their job, then a test should test what you learn, studying should be minimal and the questions should be relevant. I think every student cheats, unless they are so deadly fearful of being caught!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |