CURMUDGUCATION: Testing Still Incentivizing Cheating:
Testing Still Incentivizing Cheating
Yesterday out of Texas we have a new version of an old story-- a school that found a creative-ish new way to cheat on the Big Standardized Test.
This is a predictable and, at this point, oft-noted phenomenon. If you take a bunch of numbers and tie them to high stakes, people will look for ways to manipulate those numbers. Which is kind of the point of making those numbers high stakes. But some people will manipulate the numbers with legitimate okay-by-the-rules, and some people will find other ways to do it. If a plant manager is told that everybody's bonus depends on low injury-on-the-job numbers, there are many ways to keep those numbers down, and only some of them have anything to do with making the workplace safer. Refusing to let anyone report injuries will work, too.
So NCLB ushered in the era of high stakes testing, and within a few years, the cheating began. With 2014 as the deadline to get 100% students above average, American schools were being steadily divided into two groups-- schools that were failing and schools that were cheating. It is of course particularly tempting to cheat when it's impossible to win by legitimate means.
Some cheaters were caught and suffered huge consequences, like the Atlanta teachers who had their lives and careers trashed. Some large cheating scandals, like the one in DC under former honcho She Who Will Not Be Named, don't seem to affect anyone's reputation in the slightest. And those are just the obvious examples. Other schools find less obviously-naughty ways to game the numbers, from CURMUDGUCATION: Testing Still Incentivizing Cheating:
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