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Teachers: don’t cheat to succeed

According to a Los Angeles Times report, about three dozen educators from 23 schools and 21 school districts in California have been accused this year of cheating. In some cases, teachers are accused of changing incorrect responses or filling in missing ones after students returned answer booklets.

Cheating has spread across the entire country as more states and school districts have made test results the key factor in teacher evaluations.

In layman’s terms, if students don’t perform well in standardized testing, the teachers might lose their job. Behind the justifications for cheating, is a determined agitation that many teachers said they feel over performance evaluations.

“These reviews are increasingly linked to tenure and dismissal decisions,” Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume wrote in the “Focus on standardized tests may be pushing some teachers to cheat” on Nov. 7.

Serious cases of cheating have been found in Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In Atlanta, investigators found cheating at 44 of the 56 schools they examined and identified 178 people thought to be involved.

Back in California, teachers have allegedly scanned tests and used actual exam questions to prepare students verbatim. Cheating, in any case, is corrupt, immoral and unacceptable.

There will always be those rebels who decide to do something they believe they can get away with, solely because they know that they can get away with it. But knowing this does not solve the ethics problem in our education system, nor does simply laying off as many teachers as possible solve the economic crisis we are in.

“It’s a bind that teachers struggle with in the face of declining resources and students who often lack support and resources from home,” Blume wrote.

Both the system and the cheaters are wrong.

High scores earn prestige and boost neighborhood property values while low scores result in the loss of funds, the removal of faculty or administrators and even the closing of a campus.

Although in no way should cheating be condoned, teachers should not be put under such pressure to feel obligated to cheat.

A recently filed lawsuit seeks to force Los Angeles Unified School Districts to mandate the evaluation of teachers based on test data demonstrating student progress. Such measures are undependable, limiting the review to a one-dimensional, superficial assessment of a teacher’s skill.

Test results can and should be factored into the determination of student growth. However, teachers should not have to face the guillotine if their students do not do exemplary on one state test.

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