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May 13, 2005

Houston schools caught cheating

From Agape Press:

An internal investigation has found that teachers in four Houston, Texas, public schools assisted students in answering questions on the state-mandated test.

The Houston Independent School District -- the largest in the Lone Star State -- sent teams of investigators into 23 schools that had unusually large swings in the standardized test scores last year. The investigators interviewed children and teachers, and examined testing documents. Following the probe, district administrators have fired six teachers, demoted two principals and one assistant principal, and reprimanded several other district employees. All those accused of cheating deny having done so.

According to an Associated Press report, four eighth-graders at one school were assisted by a math teacher after being moved from their regular classrooms. Those four students, says the report, answered all of the questions the same way, and incorrectly answered the same two questions. District spokesman Terry Abbott confesses it may never be known why the teachers who were involved cheated -- but he suggests possible motives.

"All teachers in all schools want to see the school's academic achievement ratings go up -- and of course, one way to do that is by assisting students on answering the test," Abbott says. "Of course, teachers and others on the school campus share in incentive money when schools do well, and part of that incentive is derived from test scores."

I can't figure out why they're acting as if this is something new. Teachers and schools have been doing this for decades. I remember very well my class being coached in preparation for standardized tests, with the exact same questions that were later asked on the test. Teachers learn to cheat in college. The Teachers' Certification test in my state had been the same test for years, then when they changed it, they suddenly had a majority of students fail it. My wife, then my fiancée, who was in college at the time, getting her Elementary Ed degree, said the answers had been floating around for months before the test (she had to continually turn down offers to look at them). I attended one of the group meetings with her and heard one of the school administrators express his disappointment at how many students had failed the test. He was either too obtuse to get that students had been cheating, or simply wanted to hide the obvious.

Posted by Danny Carlton at May 13, 2005 02:53 PM

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