In Cheating Cases, Teachers Who Took Risks or Flouted Rules

Investigators’ reports offer a look into 14 episodes involving New York City educators.

Comments: 70

  1. Tachers and administrators cheating in New York City? How far the system has fallen from the glory days of the 40's and 50's.

  2. The teachers, administraters & investigators are all part of a bureaucry that protects itself. What is needed is an outide auditer that is paid extra to find dishonesty.

  3. What do you expect would happen: the "do better or fail" message of NCLB is (of course) going to lead to cheating. There is no even-handed approach of grading/reviewing teachers. I completely believe in school and teacher accountability, but how do you quantify a teacher's success when they are given such disparate students each year? Children who are continually passed along who can't read or write - and then when they fail to live up to successful estimation of progress; the teacher/school is to blame.
    There has to be a benchmark where the students are tested (not just standardized, but truly evealutated) and then there progress can be measured from THAT place going forward. Therefor a teacher is not responsible for past failings - and can be held accountable (even proud) of their contribution to the student's progress.

  4. Will the teachers in question be fired or just sent to a rubber room with full-time pay and benefits? Unions, your name is corruption.

  5. Teachers who cheat - I wonder what kind of role model for the students the teachers are providing. Having said that, if the negative incentives are strong enough, there will always be someone who breaks. It's not as if the economy is booming and stae and local governments are on a hiring spree and the teachers in question can easily find jobs elsewhere. And if you are a newly minted teacher, you definitely don't want your first employment reference to be a negative one - that could be the end of your career. The presure is clearly on. People are clearly breaking down under the pressure and some of the teachers are behaving no better ethically than the worst of their students. The fast, easy, straightforward, decisive response is to fire the transgressors. Having said that, I am at a loss specifying what a more compassioanate, nuanced response should be. Kids should learn and teachers should teach, but teachers should not be penalized for being stuck with students who don't want to learn. I have seen studentswho don't want to learn. I have also seen teachers who were too lazy to assign reading and homework. Neither of these belong in school.

  6. If "We the People" through our elected represetatives are so stupid that we devise a system such that only cheaters succeed, we will get cheaters and we will deserve what we get. Basing anything except real help on standardized tests takes away from real teaching time and forces teachers to either cut corners or outright cheat to succeed. The cheaters succeed and the good, honest teachers suffer.

  7. All these tales are pathetic and disappointing of course. It also seems symptomic, to me, of the overemphasis on standardized testing in this country.

    New York City schools are probably in a better position than most school systems to maintain a core educational program in the background, while scrambling to meet the testing requirements up front. For all the problems, we seem to have a solid base of well-run schools. Weaker departments of education in other municipalities have less to fall back on, I would imagine.

  8. If the test scores are the main or sole determinant of how a teacher or a school is rated cheating is one way to make sure that the school or the teacher receive good scores. If all we care about are the scores and not what's learned there will be cheating. If we care about the actual learning and understanding of the material and use the tests to help strengthen the students' comprehension or performance rather than to penalize everyone involved we might see more honest results. The way things are set up right now make it certain that honesty is a rare event.

  9. Anyone who deludes themselves into thinking that these occurrences ( which are actually rare, but because the media loves to report bad tidings, seem commonplace) are only the province of the Public Schools is greatly mistaken. Having taught in Catholic, Private, and Yeshivah schools, I can assure you, that these slight of hands happen everywhere. At a time in our culture, when all educators are being paid more, while at the same time receiving less respect as compared to prior eras, the pressure to show satisfactory results in their charges has been increasing, especially from parents who once deferred greatly to their child's teachers. Compounding this is the fact that the high regard once afforded to being well educated has diminished ( Look at the disdain so called nerds are held to, while in the prior eras there were also eggheads, that comparison fails because, there was still a sense of awe and respect afforded to eggheads, while no child today, wants to be thought of as a nerd!) It is a difficult dilemna, that anyone who has ever taught for a number of years is keenly aware of, becasue unlike other businesses, the process of being educated ultimately falls on the shoulders of the individual being educated, realizing that at some point, they will be judged with objectivity, both in the classroom and eventually out, because they can't remain there forever!

  10. Unfortunately, with APPR regulations and race to the top, this is going to become more and more commonplace as both administrators and educators come under fire for underperforming students.

  11. The teachers and administrators responsible for these acts have their guilt to bear. However, at least part of this is from schools becoming a teach to test facility. It's no longer to learn. How did they test? What were their scores?

  12. What about teachers who are ordered by their bosses (administrators) to pass students that have actually failed? Blaming teachers for much of the cheating is like blaming the auditors at Enron who were just doing what they were told to do by the executives. The administrators are the ones who set the standards, and they have ways of punishing teachers that try to do the right thing (ie, not pass kids that should not pass). Enough teacher-bashing already - look at the people who really have something to gain by cheating - the higher-ups. And let us not forget the politicians and school boards that set impossible goals (take this 3rd grade reading level student and make sure he graduates) and then blame the teachers when they are not met.

  13. When it happens cheating is always a problem and is always a disservice to the students involved. But I want to put these recent stories and statistics into context. I have taught for the last five years in Texas, and the safeguards put in place there make it hard for me to imagine anyone getting away with cheating on the state's standardized tests. For starters, any educator engaged in cheating can be criminally prosecuted (not to mention easily fired). Also, districts in the state go to Herculean lengths to police testing environments to ensure that cheating is not taking place. In most classrooms there will be two proctors. Administrators and other personnel patrol the halls and peek in testing rooms routinely. Testing materials are treated as if they were plutonium. A school in testing mode feels like a school that has gone into lockdown due to some kind of external threat.

    Of course, none of these measures (and others) make cheating impossible. But they make cheating EXTREMELY difficult to pull off and they ensure that when it happens, those responsible will be caught. I don't believe that Texas is an exception, either. Cheating is a problem whenever it happens, but from what I can tell it doesn't happen often. Look at how low test scores are in states throughout the country and you'll find all the evidence you need that in aggregate scores are not being inflated (except to the extent that states lower their benchmarks for passing so that more students will graduate). This is a far larger problem in itself.

  14. I wonder if what Mr. Lipp really meant to say was: "[...] because we can’t and won’t tolerate GETTING CAUGHT cheating on the tests.”
    Emphasis added.

  15. Is it only me, or does anyone else find the reassignment of a vice principal to a teaching assignment in a high school for "Global Citizenship" ironic?

  16. The dumbing down of America continues. How can these educators possibly this cheating can help in the long run?

  17. It's hard to tell whether cheating has gotten worse in NYC without numbers from the last few decades, but it can easily be imagined that the pressure on educators to produce good test scores is creating perverse incentives. It's not so different from many other pathetic and corrupt American workplaces and work cultures of today. The ethic, whether coming from parents, teachers, or principals, will inevitable seep down to the students, who will be well-positioned to mimic the corrupt behavior of their elders.

  18. Coming from ATL, where the system was brought to its knees, I am beginning to assume that the cheating problem is epidemic in our country. School administrators have good (personal) reasons to avoid looking too far inward, but someone needs to. A legacy of a failed idea, and good intentions gone awry: the sooner NCLB is scrapped and replaced the better.

  19. Many comments here will blame standardized testing for a teacher's complete moral failing in cheating.

    Just be careful what you wish for. A world where there are no standardized tests is not the utopia you hope for, but a world where there is far more corruption and cronyism, where who you know and where you come from matter even more than they already do. Standardized testing really is the last vehicle of social mobility that this country offers to the poor and lower classes. Take that away, what else do we have left that is not more subjective and not more biased towards chance and connections? Grades have become meaningless in the age of rampant grade inflation. Recommendations? Activities? All of these criteria disadvantage the lower classes even more than standardized tests.

  20. To me this is one more symptom of an out of date educational system. In the age of the internet, expert systems, tablet pc's, smart alerts/prompts, reminders, expert advice via a smart phone, the Khan academy and Wikipedia, our old style regimented time bound class rooms and text books - operating on an agricultural let alone an outdated industrial model with expensive teachers and administrators - are as dead as the dodo. When are we going to recognize this truth and change how our kids learn and grow?

  21. Paul from White Plains, New York, wrote:
    T[e]achers and administrators cheating in New York City? How far the system has fallen from the glory days of the 40's and 50's.

    Glory days? Weren't those the days when High School students were graduating onto the battlefields? A generation of sheep.

  22. No one condones cheating. The vast majority of educators that I worked with in my 35 years as a teacher and administrator were people of unquestionable integrity. However, some may feel that cheating is justified in light of the fact that job security is often based on standardized exams, imprecise measures of accountability and "school report cards." Others may believe, in a mis-guided way, that they are helping their students(i.e. the potential admit to college who is lacking a Regents grade). This is a systemic problem and is rampant throughout the U.S. Even the sainted Geoffrey Canada had problems at one of his Charter Schools. Yes, the teacher was fired rather easily, but that is not a reason to eliminate tenure. If not for this due process guarantee, good people would also be dismissed, not for cheating but for not following the edicts of a superior bent on showing success(at any cost).
    Here's a novel idea: why not hold accountable the non-educators who come up with the ideas for "reform (data, data and more data) that have little to do with whether a child is educated or not. From Arne Duncan to Joel Klein to Michelle Rhee, their major focus is on the vilification of teachers and the privatization of our schools. If schools districts throughout the country are experiencing cheating on the part of those that should know better, maybe those that are the final arbiters of excellence should be held accountable as well.

  23. Doesn't all this suggest that the proctors for all these tests should be someone other than their regular teachers?

  24. I reported cheating to then Chancellor Joel Klein of an A.P. who gave about 100 senior students an unearned credit so they could graduate on time and not damage her "small learning community" graduation rates. Result of this info: The A.P. has since become a Principal of a new school. (no response from Klein)

  25. Many may have grown up with the saying "cheaters never win". I held on to that belief well into my 30's, but eventually became aware that the saying is incredibly incorrect. Most cheaters do win, a very small percentage are held accountable for cheating. In every aspect of our lives, cheaters abound and are successful. Credit card fraud, insurance fraud, social service fraud, corporate theft and deception, the list goes on and on. We have created a society where it is acceptable to cheat, where cheaters receive a slap on the wrist. Fact: The virtuous will never be as successful as the cheaters.

    Thank you so much, to all you great educators out there promoting the degradation of our society.

  26. Before I left teaching I was taken off of the Regents grading committee because I refused to "scrub" grades. If anyone doesn't know what that means - that means that your principal comes into the grading room and sees that there are too many students who have scored less than 55 on the regents exam. Then, anyone with a score of at least 48 is "scrubbed" up to 55. Likewise, students who scored 55 - 65 are "scrubbed" up past 65. This is common NYC public schools. Prinipals want their "numbers" to look good and teachers are forced to comply or risk a negative rating the next time they are observed. I'd be happy to testify for anyone seriously nvestigating cheating in the NYC public school system. Just please don't blame the teachers...the administrators and even Joel Klein himself had a lot to do with it.

  27. Sad commentary on our society. Success at any cost and little respect for the individual. Standardized tests will turn us into standardized zombies who cheat.

  28. If we live in a country that was built and rewarded by cheating (capitalism and slavery, wall street bonuses, bank bailouts, hedge funds, mortgage scandals, etc., etc.) then why would we expect anything else from those on the lower ranks? Why do we criticize teachers, administrators and students who respond to unfair, inappropriate and inadequate measures of testing rather than criticize the system and policy makers who created these tests and enforce these high stakes standards. Nothing about these tests are good. If there is such a backlash, why don't we as parents, teachers and students use our voices to speak to these powers who create and enforce. Surely, their children do not attend the schools that take these tests....no? So rather than allowing the media to simply shed light on these cases, why not address the real elephant in the room: NCLB and Race to the Top....bad and terrible! Our children are not test scores. Our teachers are not testing police. Our schools are NOT prisons....though some would like to make them so! I invite any and all to involve yourselves in a movement that will reform the education deform!

  29. Teachers used to be the most moral and conscientious of citizens. Their current behavior makes them poor guides for our youth.

  30. Even worse than the falsified test scores is the fact that students -- elementary schoolers! -- saw their teacher cheat. What a horrible example to set, and what a way to tell children that adults are not to be trusted and that the end justifies the means. I can't imagine ever being able to respect a teacher who had helped the class cheat. Changing scores in private is bad enough, but doing it in front of students is absolutely unforgivable.

  31. Madronna its funny you make that statement about how corrupt the teaching unions are, especially since the 2 biggest cheating scandals were in NON UNION school districts! Which is amazing since there is a well funded operation that combs through the testing data paying special attention to union schools.

  32. With all the outrage over cheating, what is the pragmatic analysis that helps us understand how to help kids learn?

    Why would teachers cheat if they could simply do their jobs well so that capable and ready students would learn? Could it be that teachers don't believe the basis of their evaluation is anything that they can control? If so, could it be that they are right? What do teachers know that outsiders don't appreciate?

  33. While, as a teacher, I will never condone cheating, and there are some unscrupulous teachers, there are also other issues at work here. As some have mentioned, there are situations where teachers are pressured into cheating by administrators. In addition, as also previously mentioned, the stakes are ludicrously high and unreasonable.
    Finally, what's the big deal? As to the person who referenced role models, where else will students get the proper training to survive on Wall Street or be mayor of New York City????

  34. DPS has now instituted a NEW evaluation system for teachers. This one uses inexperienced evaluator teachers (I know for certain, one such evaluator had ONLY two years of teaching experience in the fifth grade in another state!) to grade teachers they have no prior knowledge of in regards to the students' problems, etc. The teachers are graded on a 1-7 scale, "7" being the top score. DPS expects ALL their teachers to be rated 7's across all academic areas. If a teacher fails to get all 7's, she/he is put on a remediation plan for the following year, at the end of which, if the teacher in question has not risen to ALL 7's....they are shown the door! The rationale the administration has for this severe rating system is, "Would you want a brain surgeon who wasn't all 7's operating on you?" To say the analogy is stupid is putting it lightly! With that kind of pressure, how could anyone function at their best?

  35. As a student I understand how hard test can be and that teachers want to help us. However by helping a student cheat, the teacher is only hurting them. Fortunately, I have teachers who help me get to the answer instead of just giving me the answer. Also, it is the students choice if he/she wants to cheat. You only cheat when you don't understand. So at the end of the day you could walk away with a good grade but it doesn't matter because you don't understand the material. I've never cheated or even thought of cheating because I know it doesn't benefit me in anyway. Lastly, advice to all teachers, you are not helping your students by assisting them to cheat, you are only hurting them.

  36. so I'm guessing these teachers will understand the pressure the kids are under to cheat and no penalties will be assessed from now on?

  37. The problem of our education system is not because of "bad teachers", but the students and their parents as well. We, as a whole socity does not value education high enough. If most of our parents believe education is extremely important, their students will follow and study hard, then teachers can help them, and approve they are good or not.

  38. Teachers in Finland (the top education system in the world) don't cheat on tests--there are no high-stakes tests in Finland to incentivise cheating. Educate teachers with MS degrees, pay them well, provide support and feedback: learning (not just test scores) will improve dramatically.

  39. This is certainly unacceptable, and there is no excuse for this kind of behavior. However, let's put this issue in perspective: A teacher says "this is a tricky question" and she/he is in danger of losing her low salary job. Banks and corporations have been cheating for years, they keep cheating and getting richer with our money while they seem immune to true justice.

  40. What is the effect on students who are active or unwitting participants in these incidents? Teachers passing them essays on street corners? Leaving cheat sheets on the front desk? This is all so bizarre, and not quite like the late-night bubble-erasing marathons I had imagined.

  41. This No Child Left Behind high stakes testing is creating an environment that is not good for anyone. Can you imagine being held responsible for someone who won't come to school and disrupts it for everyone when they do! Teachers increasingly deal with this. When I failed something in school I was a "failing kid" according to my dad NOW if a kid is failing it is a "failing school." That being said I think a teacher has a standard to meet and should be fired if deliberately cheating.

  42. what's wrong with a bit of cheating. In business and Wall St people make millions doing it. Ditto in our Congress where they lie and cheat all the time

  43. Remember Rod Paige? Education Secretary for Shrub Jr. His "miracle" in Houston schools was the basis for NCLB. It was a sham, falsified numbers, cheating, phony accounting records. While Paige was Superintendent, HISD systematically under-reported drop-out rates, crimes rates; test scores were entirely fabricated. That's the foundation for NCLB. He never served any time. He just serves on boards of directors, writing books, giving speeches.

  44. I'm confused about the problem with changing a failing grade to a passing grade due to passing the Regents. When I taught at Norman Thomas HS we were told to change class grades from failing to passing if they passed their regents.I thought that it was a normal policy at schools where most students had low reading and math levels.

  45. Testing is only one of many ways to evaluate a student. Some students do no test well when they encounter standardized tests that appear intimidating and scary. A teacher helping a student to correct a few answers to graduate should not be a crime but an act of justice. Why hold him/her back for a few answers. They should be awarded as heroes and helpers. Why punish a student who for a couple of correct/incorr
    ect answers so they can graduate.

  46. Why not pair two schools together. Staff A administers test to Students B. Students B are administered test by Staff B.

  47. I used to teach at the university level. I tried to keep my classes honest, especially during examinations. Now, we all know about departmental politics, right? So, knowing what went on in my department, I began to ask myself if I wasn’t being hypocritical for punishing students who cheated on exams. Then I thought to myself, “Isn’t education to prepare students for the real world?” There, of course, everyone cheats. So, I began thinking that I could justify punishing students for cheating, not so much because it’s wrong as because if they got caught it meant they weren’t very skilled at it. Life is simple, once you figure it out. And, as you can see, I must have been a great teacher.

  48. College professors and administrators are in the multi hundred thousand dollar salary ranges all over the place, and yet they are sending the Occupiers out to demand more money from the government (by taking it from Wall Street) so they can increase their incomes even more. All of the incredible inflation in college costs is based on student loan guarantees and one of the Occupiers goals will be to eliminate their need to repay them - in other words a "bailout" just like Wall Street allegedly got. So the beneficiaries of this bailout will be the students, professors and their unions, while the rest of the taxpayers (the true 99%) will get screwed again.

  49. Really, they're freaking out because a third grade teacher let her kids know that an answer was "tricky"? Teachers everywhere spot their kids an answer every now and again. It's a fact of life, people. Get over it.

  50. This reminds me of my last year of teaching. The principal caught a teacher reading a test question for the second time (horrors!) and immediately placed her on administrative leave. However, I knew that the principal herself was pulling out small groups of children to test separately, also against the rules. She also encouraged teachers to look at the test ahead of time and allowed one teacher to read the directions in Spanish. Because it was my last year of teaching, I reported the principal to the superintendent and she, not the teacher, was the one to lose her job.

    As a teacher of 42 years, I can assure everyone that cheating on these tests is rampant and occurring in almost every low-achieving school in the United States. Overt cheating (erasing answers) is still rare but I'll bet the majority of teachers look at the test ahead of time (with the encouragment of the principal) and then drill the students on the exact test items. Of course this is wrong but it is a culture that was created by the federal government and the impossible requirements of NCLB.

  51. It is inevitable that with the current emphasis on test scores equating to employment that widespread cheating will exist

  52. It seems that testing objectives have changed over time. Rather than testing to determine what students know, tests have become a determination of what students don't know, and therefore what the teacher is not teaching. Tests like those are not fair to the students, particularly in courses where there is a very wide range of material upon which the Regents could be based. While this is certainly not an excuse for teachers to cheat, students may lack the vocabulary or cultural background necessary to interpret questions, much less answer them correctly. With school and teacher evaluations increasingly based on test scores, increased instances of cheating are certainly not unexpected. That being said, there are more cases where teachers do not cheat and students pass without problem.

    International test scores are frequently used as a means of comparison between school systems of different countries. (Which has likely increased the pressure for testing in the United States as well.) This is an inaccurate comparison because students in many of the higher scoring nations, such as Japan, Korea, and China, attend expensive, private cram schools for 4-6 hours after the end of their school day in order to prepare for exams. Students in these countries are expected to do nothing but study and be successful in school and on their tests during their testing year; whereas there are increased demands on many American students related to their extra-curricular activities. American students who are lacking essential support to perform well academically are being placed in high-pressure testing situations, whereas only selected students in other countries take exams.

    The sudden increase in the importance of testing in the U.S. has led to good results, but has also led to situations where educators' jobs are at stake in situations they can't control. There needs to be systemic reform, but this makes it clear that just adding tests is not the answer we need.

  53. We talk of cheating. I taught for 36 years. The longer I taught, the worse the pressure on the students became. There are methods to make cheating more difficult. One is to do away with short answers and make the tests more written, or in math, more complex problems that require all work to be shown. The short test with multiple choice, or fill ins is not really a good test anyway. This worked well in my classes. You have colleges that have honor codes, they are a good thing. Demand as a teacher that your classes operate in this fashion and you are teaching ethical behavior as well as your subject matter

  54. @ 4 "Will the teachers in question be fired or just sent to a rubber room with full-time pay and benefits? Unions, your name is corruption."

    +++++++++++++++++

    A small sample of teachers cannot be used to statistically generalize against the entire population of teachers. Even if the teachers in question aren't fired or disciplined, unions are necessary to protect all teachers from the assault on academic freedom; from false accusations, particularly by vindictive students; from being made to use their lessons to promote a particular religion.

    That said, far be it from the union bashers to ever recognize the widespread corruption and government protection in the taxpayer-subsidized private sector.

  55. We have serious problems in our country if adults are brain lazy as the students to keep up "par" with the remainder of the world's countries leaders in education.

    No wonder we are ranked on the low scale in the developed countries.

    Then these failures have a nerve to protest & whine thy cant make it.

    You cheat and think mone grows on trees without critical thinking in the world today NO one will hire you to pay for the big homes and all the gadgets you want.

    I ceratinly will not support this low standard of thinking through my taxes.

  56. The emphasis on standardized tests has everyone pulling their hair in frustration over what amounts to a distraction in education. Administrators, politicians and for-profit test preparation companies have everyone believing that these tests provide a genuine measure of learning and progress, when it's far from the truth. Until we let teachers and students focus on genuine learning, thinking skills, community building, mathematics rigor and the writing process, we'll continue to perpetuate this fiasco.

  57. Why am I not surprised? When you have an Education Industrial Complex that is controlled and ruled by metrics, don't you know they will be mannipulated. In my line of work, we used to get so many hours to perform audits. Our management became consumed by these metrics and showing "Productivity Improvements." What did the smart managers do? They had people complete audits in 12 hours that never could have been done properly in 120 hours. We basically wrote reports saying everything was fine. The people who gamed the metrics all got awards and promoted. Years later, the GAO looked at our work after multiple whistle blower complaints and figured out what was going on. Big changes came but the people who gamed the metrics are now the bosses, none of them ever got called on it. So yes, cheating and gaming the system does work very well.

  58. When I was in 6th grade in the mid-1970s at a very average suburban California elementary school, our teacher gave us the (California Test of Basic Skills) CTSB test ahead of time to look at. We had open-space classes and he told us to keep them flat on the desk. I was a smart kid and did well on tests and a) it annoyed me that others were going to get an advantage and b) I was disgusted that this teacher would instruct 11-year-olds to do something so obviously wrong. I told my mother, who told the school, which did nothing. Great lesson, eh?

  59. There is no fundamental right for teachers to be employed permanently. Apart from illegal reasons for termination e.g. age and sex discrimination, should be terminable at will, like other employees, for good reason, for bad reason or for no reason. In which case those who, it is obvious, are cheats should just be fired just like a person highly suspected of stealing cash from a super market cash register could be let go. And without a hearing. It is the kids not the teachers who should be the focal point of the education system.

  60. OK- Guess what will happen when teachers' salaries are based on student achievement on tests? 80% of the administers to whom I have reported cheating have NOT supported me. They closely questioned me to "make sure" I had clearly and explicitly informed students that they were to do their own work and not "help" each other. That statement is now on my syllabus.

  61. One of the reasons for granting tenure to teachers was to insulate them from exactly this kind of behavior. Here in CA, teachers are extremely well compensated, with those with Master's Degrees earning $75k and up. All teachers can retire at 50 with 80% of their pay. There is no reason to cheat of one's students other than one's ego.

    If we're not going to clean house of the bad teachers, then it's time to do away with the tenure system and let them re-compete annually for their job based on their performance, just as we all do in the private sector.

    You can't have it both ways.

  62. The use of cheating in this context is stupid. These aren't real tests--just meaningless hoops. Telling students a question is tricky isn't cheating. Giving a student a cheat sheet is absolutely cheating--but why would a teacher do that? Because they KNOW a student will fail and who is held accountable? Their parents for not providing a safe and stable home? Nope. The teacher and the school are punished for their inability to be effective: parents, educators, and social workers.

    Millions of parents rely on schools to FEED THEIR CHILDREN. Children are getting most of their daily calories for free or at a reduced price (around 40 cents). A lot of those children are not going to pass any standardized test. What is tragic is that so many of these students would rather stay at school rather than go home--honestly, wouldn't it just be cheaper to have true academies where schools can provide a stable home atmosphere? Many wealthy families send their children to these kinds of live-in schools.

    Considering the costs of 'standardized tests' (administrators, consultants, federal funds etc), reduced lunches, and food stamps--it would probably cost the same to just house and care for the students ourselves. The welfare and food stamp payments that formerly went to parents would be re-routed to the academies.

    I am sure that many parents are well meaning and hard working, but if they are going to rely on the state to raise, educate, feed, and babysit their children--then we ought to just admit to what is going on and do what is best for the children.

  63. This is part of a cultural change, not just a shift in educational policies. Students in many areas and at many levels believe that simply by attending class, or paying tuition, they are entitled to graduate and receive their degrees. Getting over is held in higher regard than earning one's knowledge and skills through hard work. A hard worker, in fact, has come to be seen as a fool. But is this really new, or just a facet of the human condition, wherein one seeks the easiest path?

  64. I'd like to remind NCLB critics that these standards were established for a reason. If our education system were not perceived as failing our children, they would not have been deemed necessary.

    Standards are not necessarily a bad thing nor is standardization, especially when the standards and methods are an improvement.

  65. New York State has had Regents' exams since at least the 1940's - These tests are nothing new, they are what you need to take and pass to get a Regents' diploma which is something that people used to be proud of. What I don't understand is that you didn't need to take the Regents to graduate, just to get a Regents' diploma - Back in the day the kids in honors classes got them for the most part and the rest did not. So now I guess it is something everyone "deserves" whether they earned it or not?

  66. This is a predictable outcome from focussing exclusively on standardized testing as the metric for the education of a child. When we create a media culture which denigrates education, which encourages our children to be vapid and thoughtless, and then at the same time expect constant, never-ending improvement in test scores from schools and teachers, we create incentives for corruption of the system. The real fault for these problems lies in the framers of the system, who treat children like widgets and schools like factories.

    We have seen a steady decline in the classical approach to education over the past few decades. Classical education gives students a broad view of the world and the place of humanity in it. One learns to love knowledge itself, learns to love learning, to love wisdom. This love is difficult to measure, it is intangible and illusive. You can't graph it, you can't put it in an online course. There is certainly no section on the SAT's for it. But it is arguably the most important predictor for the future success and happiness of a student.

  67. How can anyone expect a principal to get over 50% of his students to pass a regents exam if only 20% of incoming freshman can read at grade level? With organizations like New Visions pushing principals for high passing rates on regents exam, it's really out of the teachers hands. The teachers have to make a choice between feeling the heat from the administrators and risking their necks, or taking their medicine by tossing scoring keys aside and "grading" students regents exams in the loosest sense of the word.

    You only have to compare the PSAT or SAT results of students to their regents grades to get a good idea of which schools are making an end run around the regents administration. If students are scoring in the lowest 5% or 10% on their PSAT compared to the rest of the country, they have little chance of legitimately passing their regents exams.

    Until there is standardized administration and grading of the exams there will always be plenty of room to game the results.

  68. In my early career days, I can remember teachers sitting around the room grading Regents Exams, then re-grading those with scores of 61-65%. It was tempting and easy to change a multiple choice answer from 1 to 4 without any erasing. Just take care to match the ink. I suspect that the culture of dishonesty is passed on, often with the support of admin. The solution is there: Regents exam grading should be outsourced (as is everything else in America these days anyway).

  69. Cheating is not new to NYC public schools - the stakes are just higher in this new educational environment. Our school system has placed so great a value on test scores that teachers are forced to put aside valuable education to spend time preparing for tests. We can probably post signs outside most schools saying 'This is only a test. Anything that passes as real education is strictly accidental.' A sorry state for our children.

  70. Here's the real problem -- the tests and the scoring rubrics are highly subjective and flawed. The scores will vary widely depending on how the rubrics are interpreted, and worse, who is interpreting. I have known teachers to take points off of English exams for spelling and punctuation, which are not on the rubric. I have seen teachers mark down essays for straying over the margin -- definitely NOT on the rubric. Then there is the real problem of the rest of us who can't be sure of the difference between "offers a basic analysis" and "offers a complete analysis" -- though the difference for the student could mean diploma or no diploma.