The idea is for the department to collect the information and share it with school districts around the country. Here's a response just sent to the department by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the unfair use and misuse of tests.
Response to U.S. Department of Education
Request for Information to Gather Technical Expertise Pertaining to Testing Integrity
Widespread cheating is an inevitable consequence of overuses of high-stakes testing, as predicted by renowned social scientist Donald Campbell. In 1976 he wrote in what is now called Campbell's Law, [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell%27s_law ] "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. . . when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways."
In their report on the Dougherty County System, the Georgia Special Investigators identified similar causes [see http://www.gadoe.org/_documents/gaosa/Volume%201.pdf ] In the section titled "Why Cheating Occurred," the investigators cite No Child Left Behind's "pressure to meet AYP targets" as "a significant motivation for cheating" finding, "This pressure drives some individuals to cross ethical lines." They concluded, "Since the enactment of NCLB, standardized testing has become more about measuring the teachers, principals and schools than accurately assessing the children's academic progress."
In terms of "best practices" for detecting and responding to testing irregularities, there is no need for a massive federal study. The reports by the Georgia Office of Special Investigators examining cheating in Atlanta area schools are a model for policy-maker response. A comprehensive review by independent law enforcement professionals - not politicians or bureaucrats who may have vested interests in protecting current policies and personnel - is necessary. Combined with the use of the full range of forensic detection tools - including analyses for high numbers of erasures, unusual score gains, and patterns of similar responses - this approach has proven most likely to root out the full truth.
More policing and better after-the-fact investigations will not, however, solve the many problems caused by the politically motivated misuses of standardized exam scores. Instead, high-stakes testing requirements must end because they cheat students out of a high-quality education and cheat the public out of accurate information about school quality.
The FairTest National Center for Fair & Open Testing
CONFIRMED CASES OF TEST-CHEATING --- (2008-2012)
According to FairTest's records, in the past four school years one or more cheating cases have been documented in the following jurisdictions. The key:
# Included in March 2011 USA Today/Gannett investigative series
* Multiple reports or apparent systematic pattern
Arizona # California # Colorado # Connecticut District of Columbia # * Florida #* Georgia * Indiana * Illinois Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan # Minnesota Missouri Mississippi Nevada New Jersey * New York * North Carolina Ohio # Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania * Rhode Island South Carolina Tennessee Texas * Virginia Washington Wisconsin
*********************************************************** -- Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University 625 Wham Drive Mail Code 4610 Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O] (618) 457-8903 [H] Fax: (618) 453-4244 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org