Cheating Scandals, Cheat Learners
Every year, another teacher cheating case makes national headlines in the United States. Atlanta was the site of the most well-known controversy of the recent decade. An investigation conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2008 discovered evidence that five elementary schools, including one in Atlanta, cheated on the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
Over the course of a year, many of these students’ exam scores improved from the bottom to the top. The chances of students making such a leap were fewer than one in a billion. Beverly Hall was selected National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in recognition of the district’s improved test scores and graduation rates. Atlanta was dubbed a “model of urban education reform” by the organization. However, as we later discovered, this was due to widespread cheating in the district.
In the first place, why do instructors cheat?
So, why do instructors choose to assist students in cheating on standardized tests? For one thing, our testing culture puts a lot of pressure on educators to perform or else. If their learners do not demonstrate growth, they may be the next person on the chopping block and, as a result, out of a job. Furthermore, many districts have a merit-based compensation structure in place, where educators can receive extra if their students perform well on state tests. Bonuses in certain systems are dependent on total learner growth in individual schools, which encourages widespread corruption and cheating. Furthermore, many principals and superintendents, without officially saying so, support and reward dishonesty. Educators with a demonstrated ability to assist students’ progress academically are recruited for principalships. Principals whose schools make enough yearly growth are the next in line for assistant superintendent positions or lucrative roles with consulting firms or the state department of education.
What happens when teachers report cheating?
Most educators in American K-12 schools are diligent, honorable individuals who do not tolerate dishonesty. If they discover that their colleagues are engaging in unethical behavior, such as cheating on standardized examinations, they are the first to raise the alarm. Educators and administrators who expose fraud or other irregularities face reprisal, threats, and intimidation, just as they did in the Atlanta cheating case. Even if their district examines their claims, it is in the best interests of the district to hide any corroborating evidence that is discovered. As a result, many educators are choosing to remain silent for fear of punishment and possibly being dismissed.
Learners suffer when educators falsify information.
I worked in the K-12 system for seven years and can tell you that decisions are frequently made focused on how they will affect adults, not children. Educators who cheat on standardized tests are not concerned with student improvement; they are just concerned with their own financial and professional advancement. When a learner’s test results show that they are proficient, it sends a signal to their parents that their child is doing well academically, giving both the learner and their parents a false sense of security. When they discover that their child’s test results were tampered with, they get frustrated and angry. Furthermore, when students transfer to a new instructor and grade level, their test scores present a distorted picture of what they are capable of academically, which can have a negative impact on their intellectual growth. At the end of the day, students lose and will never reach their academic potential during their K-12 education.
In the end,
In the Atlanta teacher scandal, 35 educators were indicted, and 21 of them agreed to plea bargains. This meant that 13 educators would have to undergo trial (one defendant, Beverly Hall, passed away while awaiting trial). Eleven of the defendants are found guilty of conspiracy and other felony charges by the jury. Only one person, former instructor Dessa Curb, was acquitted of any misconduct.
Hopefully, their fate will serve as a warning to educators who are considering assisting students in cheating on standardized tests. We need instructors in schools, not in prisons.