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Volume 27, Number 6
November/December 2011

With Cheating on the Rise, Schools Respond


The cheating scandals that rocked school districts from Georgia to Connecticut have sullied school district reputations, ended education careers, and cast an unflattering light on the ugly underbelly of the accountability movement.

And the scandals may not be over yet. With test results increasingly tied to teacher evaluations, experts are urging school districts to remain vigilant because the incentives to cheat grow ever larger each year.

“When stakes are high, and teachers and principals can lose their jobs over low scores, they are more likely to cheat,” says David Berliner, a Regents Professor Emeritus of Education at Arizona State University, who has written about the unintended consequences of high-stakes testing. “If they believe it’s an unfair measure of their performance, the likelihood of cheating goes up.”

John Fremer, president of Caveon Consulting Services, a Utah company that has analyzed 20 million test results in 20 states, confirms that cheating is on the rise. Fremer, who has spent 50 years in the testing field, estimates that up to 2 percent of teachers and administrators cheat in some way on standardized tests.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.