Eagle Forum
EF Twitter

Back to Jan. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter

N.Y. City Teachers Helped Students Cheat on Tests

NEW YORK, NY - Charges of widespread cheating on the state's standardized reading and math tests have been made in a report by New York City school investigators against 32 schools, 43 teachers, two principals and two paraprofessionals. The New York Times reported on December 8 that the cheating covers a five-year period and includes more students, teachers and schools than any similar incident "in the recent history of American public schools."

The cheating was accomplished in several ways. One method involved allowing students to write their answers on scrap paper, with teachers supplying the correct answers before students filled out the test forms. In other instances, teachers told students which answers to correct on their test booklets or even corrected the answers themselves.

As might be expected, test scores improved, sometimes dramatically. At P.S. 234 in the Bronx, reading test scores rose 22% during the time the cheating took place. Edward F. Stancik, an NYC schools investigator, told the Times that the teachers' motivation "was simply to improve their own reputations and further their own careers by creating the illusion that they were doing a good job." While the NYC Board of Education was not implicated in the scandal, he accused the board's Office of Investigative Services with failure "to expose or punish the cheating."

The pressure for educators to improve student performance has increased considerably in recent years with the advent of new standardized "assessment" tests. Across the country, states are implementing "high stakes assessments" that are tied to rewards and punishments. Schools failing to make the grade are penalized and some face the prospect of takeovers by state or local governments. Those who produce higher test results reap financial rewards, often including merit pay increases for principals and teachers.

As some education experts, including Donna Hearne of the Constitutional Coalition have repeatedly pointed out, the problem with these tests is that they are not objective evaluations of student knowledge, but subjective assessments of students' attitudes, feelings and beliefs. Test scores are ultimately in the hands of scorers with varying opinions of how students should interpret the material. "The tests are becoming the focal point of education," Mrs. Hearne says, "and as a result, teachers are teaching little else." (See Education Reporter, Nov. 1999.)

The NYC school investigators' report fails to criticize the increased emphasis on test scores, instead urging greater vigilance and the development of "more aggressive strategies" for dealing with cheating and cheaters. Though investigators estimate that the tests of more than 1,000 students have been affected, no attempt is being made to track which students may have been held back or promoted as a result of the fraudulent scores.

The investigation began in July 1998 after teachers at two schools came forward with allegations of wrongdoing. The educators accused of cheating will be removed from the classroom and reassigned to district offices while board of education officials examine evidence and determine whether or not they'll be fired. New York City has 1,100 public schools.

Google Ads are provided by Google and are not selected or endorsed by Eagle Forum
Eagle Forum 200 West 3rd St. • Alton, IL 62002 phone: 618-433-8990 eagle@eagleforum.org