Lawrence Hardy’s article “An Epidemic of Cheating,” which appeared in the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) magazine, takes a look at cheating by teachers and administrators on standardized tests as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). Opponents blame the NCLBA and the tests themselves. Instead, assuming the tests are properly constructed, are tied to the curriculum objectives and content, and are properly validated, then the problem does not lie with the test. It lies with the parents, students, faculty, and administration who think that more money and fewer standards will address a moral issue.
Hardy writes, “Allegations of teachers or administrators manipulating standardized tests have surfaced in Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, East St. Louis, Ill., Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., among many other cities.” Given the purported prevalence of the problem, “they’ve given opponents of high-stakes tests a strong argument for limiting or abolishing them.”
Hardy gives a few specific examples of administrators involved in cheating scandals, including Beverly Hall in Atlanta, the former National Superintendent of the Year, whose performance bonuses totaled more than $580,000, and Lorenzo Garcia, the former superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District.
Hardy also points out that there is evidence that teachers are cheating on their own, citing a 2012 investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which found “196 districts across the country with questionable gains in test scores,” as well an investigation by USA Today a year earlier which found “more than 1,600 questionable test score increases in six states and the District of Columbia.”
Robert Schaeffer, the public education director for FairTest, which opposes standardized testing, blames the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. “After the introduction of No Child Left Behind, we saw an acceleration of cheating cases,” Schaeffer claims. “In recent years, as we’re getting to the 100 percent requirement [for student proficiency] in 2014, we’ve seen an explosion.”
Apparently everyone wants to blame the test, and not their own inability to perform. Then again, it is easier to blame an inanimate object, than it is to blame yourself.