In light of the standardized test cheating scandal in Atlanta — as well as incidents we’ve written about in Indiana — UNC professor Gregory Cizek offered some perspective in an Education Week editorial:
As long as important educational decisions are informed in part by test results, cheating will occur. It’s a huge mistake, however, to think that the incentives to cheat in school settings are fundamentally any different from those in any other context.
There’s money to be saved by overstating deductions on tax returns; fame and fortune for Major Leaguers who use steroids to improve their sliders or their batting averages; temptation to plagiarize to keep the prestige associated with reporting for The New York Times; and political power to be gained through voter fraud.
All such cheating would go away if we did away with baseball, taxes, newspapers, and free elections. Short of that, there will always will be some—hopefully small—percentage of folks who cut corners. Education is no exception.
Evidence of some corner cutting has surfaced in Indiana too. 11 teachers have been accused of bending test rules to give their students an unfair advantage on the Spring 2011 ISTEP+ standardized test. At least one teacher has denied the allegations.
The state is currently reviewing new rules for how to investigate claims of teacher cheating.