In several states, student test scores have gone up, but so have suspicions of test tampering by teachers and administrators. Six states have announced investigations into cheating this year. Three teachers, the principal and assistant principal resigned from an elementary school near Houston after it was discovered they provided students with a detailed study guide of questions on the state science test. The educators got the questions by using a technique known as “tubing,” They squeezed the plastic surrounding a test booklet to form a tube through which they could read and copy test questions without breaking the seal.
Massachusetts revoked the charter for the Robert Hughes Academy in May after it was discovered that the principal told teachers to look over students’ shoulders and point out wrong answers on standardized tests. A principal in Norfolk, Virginia pressured teachers to use an overhead projector to display answers to a state reading test administered to special education students.
The most sweeping scandal reported was in Georgia, where the state school board ordered investigations of 191 schools. A computer analysis discovered pencil erasures, and flagged as suspicious classrooms in which the change from incorrect to correct answers was far above the statistical norm; eleven teachers and administrators may lose their licenses for changing test answers. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that some schools reported improvements that were a statistical impossibility. Indiana and Nevada also reported educator cheating.
Many experts blame the federal No Child Left Behind law for the pressure to show annual academic improvement. That law requires public schools to bring all students up to grade level by 2014, and the standards are difficult to meet.
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