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Topic: Overuse of tests feeds cheating / Opinion
Replies: 3   Last Post: Apr 25, 2013 7:10 PM

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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Overuse of tests feeds cheating / Opinion
Posted: Apr 24, 2013 3:11 PM
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From USToday, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. See

Overuse of tests feeds cheating: Opposing view

When policymakers attach bonuses and sanctions to scores, scandal is
sure to follow.

By Bob Schaeffer

The behavior of some school administrators and educators in Atlanta
was clearly outrageous. There's no excuse for cheating.

Unfortunately, Atlanta's scandal is the "tip of an iceberg" in a
national sea of standardized test score manipulation. In just the
past four years, cheating on high-stakes exams has been confirmed in
37 states and Washington, D.C., according to a survey posted at

The epidemic of cheating scandals is one reason to reverse education
policies. More compelling is overwhelming evidence that
test-and-punish strategies fail to improve our schools.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law had laudable objectives -
boosting achievement and narrowing racial gaps. But the U.S. made
more progress toward these important goals in the decade before the
law than since its passage.

Test score gamesmanship is fallout from the nation's explosion of
standardized exam misuse and overuse. When policymakers attach
bonuses and sanctions to test scores, some schools feel compelled to
generate the numbers they need, by hook or by crook. They also narrow
curriculum and drill test content.

The standards of the educational measurement profession warn against
using results from a single test to make major decisions. Yet
politicians continue to double down on policies that violate expert
guidelines. As a result, they end up cheating students, parents and
the community out of a high-quality education.

There is one bright sign. Recent reports of cheating have accelerated
a reassessment of test-driven education "reform." From Seattle to
Providence, parents, students, teachers, administrators and
researchers are saying, "Enough is enough!" Test boycotts, opt-out
campaigns, protests, petition drives and school board resolutions
call for replacement of NCLB and similar state-mandated schemes.

They are making an impact. The Arizona Legislature repealed that
state's graduation test requirement. Texas is likely to reduce the
number of required exams.

These changes are direct reactions to grassroots constituent
concerns. Even more pressure will be required to turn around
assessment policy.
Bob Schaeffer is public education director of the National Center for
Fair and Open Testing (FairTest).
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

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