Largest School Test-Cheating Scandal in History Failed Our Kids the Most

Horrifying 4

pencilsDoes anyone else feel like all that relentless testing we make our kids do isn't making them any smarter or better educated? If you don't feel that way now, the latest testing scandal might change your mind. A whopping 35 schools are accused of tampering with test scores in Atlanta, Georgia. It's the biggest school cheating scandal in U.S. history. The adults sold out the kids.

Back in 2008, two reporters for the Atlanta Journal Constitution thought an elementary school's amazing test scores sounded too good to be true. So they started investigating ... and the scandal grew larger and larger, involving teachers, administrators, and even politicians. Under insane pressure, adults in charge of educating children allegedly tampered with test papers and then lied to cover it all up.

The investigation led to a grand jury indictment that starts at the top: Reportedly, Superintendent Beverly Hall pressured principals, who in turn pressured teachers. Hall ended up collecting $580,000 in performance bonuses and was named "Superintendent of the Year" thanks to the amazing progress students seemed to be making on test scores. But really, what she did was "created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education."

And that's the worst part of this scandal -- it hurt the kids. Instead of focusing on helping kids learn, educators were gaming the tests. And the tests failed to do what they were designed to do: Testing is supposed to reveal how well kids are learning.

If test scores are low, that could mean a school needs help. It could be more resources, or new teachers, or a different curriculum. But if you're tampering with test scores, you'll just hide failing or struggling schools. Cheating totally defeats the purpose!

I think what this scandal reveals is how much it's thrown our priorities out of whack. We've put too much pressure on kids and teachers to show improvement and perform well on paper. And in the end, I'm not convinced kids are getting a better education. I hope this scandal rocks the educators and parents so hard that we all start demanding change. Stop with the insane testing pressure and re-think all those rewards. It's time to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to assess student competency.

Do you think there's too much pressure on school testing?

 

Image via KristenNador/Flickr

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