Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cheat Proudly

There are allegations that cheating is up in NYC, and the only surprise is that anyone is surprised. When you place a gun to someone's head to encourage a certain sort of behavior, you are likely to elicit that target one way or another. If test scores don't go up, we close your school and the principal can go fish. The teachers become wandering subs, going from classroom to classroom in the hope we can discourage them enough to quit of their own volition.

So really, what can they expect? Maybe the next time we give a test, we allow the students to help one another. Maybe we leave a few highlighted review books around. Or maybe those decorations on the bulletin board just happen to contain the formulas or responses that they need. Maybe the teacher overlooks those little papers being passed around.

Of course, perhaps the teacher or administrator can simplify everything and simply erase the answers that aren't part of the program. This seems to have occurred en masse in DC under brilliant "reformer" Michelle Rhee. And it's human nature. If test scores are everything, if our jobs depend on them, they will be manipulated. In fact, it's not in City Hall's interest to challenge cheating. When our grades go down, theirs do too. Count on this--the cheating we hear about is the tip of the iceberg, and as long as we have this insane emphasis on test scores, it will grow exponentially worse.
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