I was flabbergasted the other day when I read a headline posted to Facebook by one of my friends: "America's Biggest Teacher and Principal Cheating Scandal Unfolds in Atlanta."
My first thought was a bunch of teachers and principals jumping in and out of bed together and now I think I would have preferred that story. Instead the article goes on to talk about a Georgia Bureau of Investigations report that states cheating on high stakes standardized testing can be proven in 44 schools.
Atlanta was one of the foremost districts in illustrating that No Child Left Behind could work. The report released shows that teachers made it work by correcting answers. The fraud was mainly perpetrated by erasing marks known to be wrong and bubbling in the correct responses. Erasure patterns surfaced during the investigation.
Also uncovered were ethical violations such as whistle-blower harassment, impeding investigations, and the cheating itself. Eighty-two of the 178 named violators have confessed that they cheated.
These teachers and administrators that cheated all knew better. They are college graduates that took exams to get their positions. They just showed that they meant nothing when they pledged to try and teach a child to make it on their own and that cheating wasn't necessary.
I am so very hurt by what the Atlanta Public School district has done. Teaching is hard enough. Now, teachers will not only have to fight to teach without teaching to tests, they will have to prove that the test scores of their students are on the up and up.
NCLB put dollar signs on student achievement and changed the face of education. There is no longer an ability to teach children; everything has to be super planned out. Children are required to meet goals set forth by standardized tests, not receive a well-rounded experience.
Everyone has to be tested; there is no way around that. But this whole scandal could have been avoided if testing were just made a small percentage of the average student experience.
We need to evaluate the quality of a student's work, not just the ability to recall useless facts for one school year because that is no measure of education — it is a measure of memory. I hope that as the reformation of the educational experience continues to occur, the return to learning will be revived.
Giving grades to students should mean something different than a bubble-in test. Combining in-class scores, projects and end-of-grade testing would provide a much more comprehensive look at a student's learning gains than a bubble-in test
I once wrote an opinion about students who cheat and a professor told me of how they had cheated. Others tried to tell me that education majors were the world's worst for cheating. I stood up for myself, teachers, and teaching students everywhere: "We don't cheat!"
Now I retract any defense I gave for others besides myself. My professor admitted to cheating, 178 educators have been caught in the act in Atlanta, an six other states have accusations floating around that their schools may not be on the up-and-up. No wonder students think cheating is OK. I hope that those involved in the APS scandal get all the books thrown at them — even the Cliff's Notes.