Another method of boosting student test scores is through cheating which an increasing number of teachers have engaged in where high stakes testing has been introduced into schools.
There are various ways that teachers cheat on the standardised tests:
Cheating was uncovered in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and in other states by 2006. Hundreds of Texas schools have been suspected of cheating on standardised tests.
In California dozens of schools admitted to cheating. For example, teachers helped students with answers or allowed students to consult reference materials or to use calculators. Some even changed the answers on test papers after the test.
An investigation of Atlanta public schools, which have won national awards for student achievement, found that "as many as 100 employees at 12 schools violated testing protocols". Apparently the gains in student test scores at some schools seemed unlikely and they were investigated. An audit of 2008 tests found abnormal amounts of erasures of incorrect answers and substitution of correct answers. A second investigation focussed on 12 schools that had large numbers of erasures, "inconsistent scoring or unusual grade increases". Throughout the state of Georgia, 191 public schools were investigated because of unusual numbers of erasures on Spring 2009 tests.
In 2010, the New York Times reported that investigations into cheating were being undertaken in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere: "Experts say the phenomenon is increasing as the stakes over standardized testing ratchet higher — including, most recently, taking student progress on tests into consideration in teachers’ performance reviews." That pressure is increasing as No Child Left Behind provisions require higher levels of proficiency to be met each year.
Brian Jacobs, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and co-author of a study, Rotten Apples, on cheating by teachers in Chicago public schools said they "found cheating increased by 30 to 50 percent because of high-stakes testing".
In Australia there have been a number of allegations of schools and individual teachers cheating on standardised tests (NAPLAN) since the federal government started publishing school test scores on the My School website in 2009. The Western Australian State School Teachers Union has called for an enquiry into schools cheating in order to get better rankings on the My School website.
Tests are delivered to schools a week or so before the tests and there is no independent check to make sure they haven't been opened before the tests so there is opportunity and accusations (in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia) that teachers are using illicit advance knowledge of test content to give their classes an advantage in test preparation.
Tests are generally supervised by a single teacher who may then help students without being observed. A teacher in South Australia admitted to altering student answers after the tes and two others have been accused of giving "inappropriate assistance" during tests. A school in Brisbane is accused of allowing students to discuss answers during a lunch break during a test. In NSW a school left large grammar and spelling posters on the walls of the test room.
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