Why Teachers Decided Cheating Was the Right Thing to Do

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

standardized test A struggling Atlanta school began cheating to improve the school's ranking so it wouldn't be closed. (Copyright: Chad McDermott/Shutterstock)

New Yorker staff writer Rachel Aviv investigates a widespread, long-term culture of cheating among educators in Atlanta’s public-school district. When faced with what they saw as out of reach, data-driven district targets—as well as progress measurements outlined in No Child Left Behind—school district administrators and teachers began systematically fixing students’ incorrect answers on standardized tests. Aviv’s article “Wrong Answer” is in the July 21 issue of The New Yorker.



Rachel Aviv

Comments [11]

marybeth from Long Island NY

Perhaps the awarding of bonuses is one of the root causes of this test cheating. Let's not put all the blame on 'no child left behind.'

As further evidence of the corrosive effect of giving bonuses to people for doing their job, witness the Veterans' Administration scandal, and the IRS scandal where employees also got bonuses for doing the work it was their job to do. And, how many taxpayers even knew of all this bonus awarding?

Jul. 23 2014 05:24 PM
Vanessa from Brooklyn, NY

@Vinny from Manalapan, NJ

I have read it. I was surprised to learn that payment-by-results is far from novel in education and that "the unintended
outcomes of the policy, which ultimately led to its end, included
narrowing of the curriculum, cheating and manipulation by
schoolteachers and managers, and increased risk and uncertainty in the
teaching profession" were so similar to what we are currently experiencing (again).
I'm sorry the link took you to a pay site. You may be able to access it through a library database search. It's certainly worth the effort.

Jul. 23 2014 04:07 PM
Vinny from Manalapan, NJ

@Vanessa Nutter from Brooklyn, NY

Ha, nevermind, I see the Abstract.
Still, have you read the article?

Jul. 23 2014 01:04 PM
Vinny from Manalapan, NJ

@Vanessa Nutter from Brooklyn, NY

Your link is a pay link for $39.00
It looks like it is a really interesting article.
Have you read it, and if you have, could you give us the jist of it?

Jul. 23 2014 01:01 PM
Vanessa Nutter from Brooklyn, NY

Huriya Jabbar, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote an interesting piece on the history of performance-based management in education and it's shortcomings since the 19th century.

Citation: Huriya Jabbar (2013) The case of ‘payment-by-results’: re-examining the effects of an incentive programme in nineteenth-century English schools, Journal of Educational Administration and History, 45:3, 220-243, DOI: 10.1080/00220620.2013.796912

Link to this article:

Jul. 23 2014 12:49 PM
fuva from harlemworld

One of the features of this dysfunctional approach to "school/education reform", which purports to "problem-solve" without understanding the fundamental problems, is the vilification of teachers; the criticism of certain ineffective teacher practices, without understanding the context in which they arise – without understanding the skill sets, challenges and pressures that public school teaching entails.

Jul. 23 2014 12:45 PM
tom LI

When asked to bend some littlecompany rules at work, we all tend to fall in line. But if asked to break and violate laws and ones own moral compass (hopefully ) it is the teachers fault for going along. My boss tries that and he learns a lesson right at the end of my arm. No one threatens me with my job to break the law and violate my morals. Period!

Blame the system, blame others all you want, but it takes people to stand up to all bullies! Bullying doesn't stop when we reach "adulthood". Economic bullying is rampant in the American workforce!

Jul. 23 2014 12:39 PM

Campbell's Law promises this exact result.

$ for test scores insures gaming the system.

Jul. 23 2014 12:36 PM
Judy from nyc

I was a NYC elementary school teacher for 35 plus years. Some students have an IEP requirement for being tested in a special setting. Nothing illegal about it.

One reason why students abilities don't seem to match their scores is that the passing grade is lowered to a point that children doomed to fail in successive grades because they really don't have the skills to move on. Also almost every child who fails and goes to summer school somehow miraculously improve pass at the end of the session.

Jul. 23 2014 12:33 PM
Rooney from NY, NY

The teachers and students are NOT the criminals here -- it's the corporate education reform (or education DEFORM, rather) movement that is to blame. This is what happens when we allow corporate ed deformers to tie money and profit to the education of children.

If schools are promised money (and allowed to stay open) if and only if they have high test scores, which struggling schools are NOT going to try to manipulate their scores in some way in order to save themselves from being shut down and labeled "failing"?

I would also love to see more attention paid to all the corporations that are making money off of the testing phenomenon as well as to the non-educators making all the education policy, from Barack Obama/Arne Duncan on down.

Jul. 23 2014 12:24 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from bk

Would the vastly excessive response to this "crime" have occurred if the teachers were not black and part of a controversial union?

Jul. 23 2014 12:08 PM

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