I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Testing Nation = Cheating Nation

Welcome to the Garden State, cheating scandals!
TRENTON — The Department of Education has ordered an investigation of 34 schools for possible cheating after an analysis of standardized test scores revealed irregularities.
After examining two years of data, state investigators identified schools with unusually high rates of erasures, or instances where answers were changed from wrong to right. The state identified nine schools with high schoolwide averages and 25 district and charter schools with high levels of erasures in one or more grades, a state report shows.
In three Newark elementary schools, the average number of answers that were changed from wrong to right was four to five times higher than the state average of 2.43 erasures per test. A middle school in Franklin Lakes and an elementary school in Woodbridge had wrong-to-right erasure rates that were twice as high as the state average, according to the report.
Keep in mind - this is BEFORE we implement a system designed by non-teachers that will tie pay and job security to test results.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to "cheat" on a test that are perfectly legal: tons of test prep, drill-and-kill, narrowing the curriculum, etc. Erasures are just a lazy form of the same thing.

Of course, the answer is more charters, right?
At the Robert Treat Academy, a Newark charter school, the sixth grade was singled out after the state found an average of 7.5 wrong-to-right erasures per test in 2010.
Sixth-graders there had stellar test results that year: State data showed every sixth-grade test taker at Robert Treat Academy passed both the language arts and math proficiency exams in 2010, the only grade at the school to get a perfect score, and one of only two sixth grade classes in the state to do so.
Robert Treat Principal Theresa Adubato released a prepared statement Tuesday:
"As the DOE indicated, the erasure analysis does not indicate any irregularities occurred at Robert Treat Academy. We welcome the DOE’s review of our sixth-grade tests. I’m confident that the DOE will find no irregularities occurred," she said.
Now, we could go back to using standardized tests as diagnostics for judging methodologies instead of tools designed for the punishment of "professionals." We could use them as one of many tools available to judge student learning, and assess the work of teachers through peer and supervisor review.

But how is anyone going to make money from that?

Instead, it's clear that we have to divert even more money from the classroom and put it into test security. Teachers cannot be trusted to proctor their own exams. We need a force with pseudo-police powers to patrol our schools and sniff out these nefarious bubble-sheet cheats. I suggest Chris Cerf get to work immediately on a joint contract with Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein's Wireless Generation and Xe (formerly Blackwater Worldwide).

After all, it's for the kids...

And the winner of the no-bid contract to provide test security is...

I hope you realize I'm serious about this. If this nonsense gets passed, privatized test prep security is coming; I guarantee it. Just watch.


CommutingTeacher said...

"Robert Treat Principal Theresa Adubato" all in the family, huh?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how teachers could be involved with the erasures--I'm sure it's possible, but at my school the HSPA exams go right to the office when the kids are done. You'd have to be pretty quick with an eraser.
In these cases do teachers just say, " Everyone change #20 to C"?

Also, don't all schools have two teachers in the room during these tests?

Administrators have the most to lose in this game (that is, until merit pay is inflicted).