Focus on test scores may be pushing some teachers to cheat

Nov 7, 2011 by

 

 

Editor’s  Note: The failure to properly teach the subject matter is no excuse for cheating.

The number of California teachers who have been accused of cheating, lesser misconduct or mistakes on standardized achievement tests has raised alarms about the pressure to improve scores.

The stress was overwhelming.

For years, this veteran teacher had received exemplary evaluations but now was feeling pressured to raise her students’ test scores. Her principal criticized her teaching and would show up to take notes on her class. She knew the material would be used against her one day.

“My principal told me right to my face that she — she was feeling sorry for me because I don’t know how to teach,” the instructor said.

The Los Angeles educator, who did not want to be identified, is one of about three dozen in the state accused this year of cheating, lesser misconduct or mistakes on standardized achievement tests.

The teachers came from 23 schools and 21 districts — an unprecedented number that has raised alarms about the pressure California educators are under to improve test scores. In the worst alleged cases, teachers are accused of changing incorrect responses or filling in missing ones after students returned answer booklets.

Many accused teachers have denied doing anything wrong. But documents and interviews suggest that an increasing focus on test scores has created an atmosphere of such intimidation that the idea teachers would cheat has become plausible.

“One teacher has personally confided in me that if her job was on the line, she indeed would cheat to get the higher test scores,” one Los Angeles-area instructor said. “The testing procedures haven’t been secure over the past 10-plus years. Some of the ‘most effective’ teachers could be simply the ‘most cunning.’ ”

None of the accused teachers contacted by The Times were willing to be identified. For the most part, even their colleagues declined to be interviewed, saying that any comments about their schools would only continue the ignominy.

via Focus on test scores may be pushing some teachers to cheat – latimes.com.

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