By Jessica Lyons
Cheating Scandals in the U.S.
The current scandal in Atlanta could involve up to 178 educators from 44 different schools. These teachers and school officials allegedly changed students' answers on standardized tests in order to reach goals for higher scores. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.
In May of 2010, it was reported that five teachers and two administrators at a Houston, Texas elementary school were accused of changing answers on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests or letting students know when their answers were incorrect so the students could change them. More recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has started investigating if there was cheating on the state's standardized tests in about 35 districts. However, at this point it is unknown if there actually was cheating and, if there was, if it was at the hands of administrators, teachers or students.
A Worldwide Problem
Cheating scandals among educators aren't solely a U.S. issue, but instead can be found in countries all over the world. In Romania, it was found that students were collecting money to pay teachers off to allow cheating on university exemption exams. Cambodian students interviewed by the media outlet AFP said they bribed teachers to look the other way during exams so they could use notes that had been snuck into the room.
In 2009, two high school teachers in China were detained amid allegations that they helped students cheat on college entrance exams by giving them the answers through earpieces. Another 2009 incident in China led to a group of eight parents and teachers being sent to jail after they were found guilty of being a part of cheating. Once the exam had started, the teachers faxed the questions to the parents, who got answers from university students. The answers were then sent to the test-taking students through earpieces.
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Why Do Educators Help Cheat?
One reason that educators turn to cheating is because of the pressure to produce higher test scores. In the case of Atlanta, fingers were pointed at administrators who allegedly kept pushing teachers to have higher test scores. Some teachers can find themselves constantly facing the stress of knowing their jobs could be at risk if their students don't meet certain testing goals. With seemingly impossible standards to meet and no other options available to them, there are some educators who turn to cheating.
Another explanation that has been given is lack of financial resources. For example, in Romania a teachers' union representative said that funding cuts have hurt the education system's ability to make needed reforms.
The Impact on Students
Although certainly the majority of teachers are genuinely dedicated to providing students with quality educations, the few educators that resort to cheating are hurting students. First of all, educators who get involved in cheating are setting very bad examples for their students. It's difficult to convince students they need to work hard and get the correct answers on their own if they know teachers have changed students' answers.
Additionally, these practices could hurt how prepared students will be for the next step in their educations. If someone else is giving them the answers, then there is a chance the students will not be putting in the effort to learn all of the information themselves. Falsified test scores could lead to students being placed in more advanced courses then they are actually ready for, which might result in continued problems in school as they try to keep up.
Find out how No Child Left Behind is trying to get students and schools to improve test scores.