Monday, January 12, 2009

Cheating on the state tests?

On the eve of the NYS ELA tests, I'm thinking about Freakonomics and the chapter about using algorithms to find out cheating educators.

Not only are some people unscrupulous enough to cheat on these tests, some of those are stupid enough to cheat by changing correct answers to incorrect ones.

But in my view, as long as high stakes tests are here to stay, they must be done right. And state officials should be doing everything they can to ensure that there is no cheating going on. Everything.

As for the merit of high stakes tests themselves, here's my view: while schools and people are both multilayered organisms that are far too complex to be boiled down to a single number, high-stakes tests are with us for at least the next ten years. It will take a crisis of morality - something a degree of magnitude higher than the Columbine shootings - to adjust the national opinion. But they will always be a useful snapshot of how kids/schools are faring, and while I would decry "teaching to the test" with anyone, I also think that a school with a rigorous instructional program that is meeting its mission will also successfully prepare kids for these tests.

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