I am a single parent, so, hell yeah, I have the motivation to want to have good scores. I donâ€™t want to lose that money.
Think about the teachers who are monitoring their own students who are taking those state exams that they must pass or they cannot graduate or they go to prison â€“ the Barometer is not really sure of consequences for students, just that they are serious. Â If the consequences were not so grave, why else would teachers cheat?Â And cheating they are, according to a study released by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, David Berliner, and Sharon Rideau, â€œCheating in the First, Second, and Third Degree: Educatorsâ€™ Responses to High-Stakes Testing,â€ 18 Education Policy Analysis 1 (2010). Â Â An excerpt:
We know that many educators are discouraged by high-stakes testing and fearful of their
results â€“ results that are used to make consequential decisions, largely determined by state and
federal policies, specifically the stronger accountability policies written into the No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001. In effect (Haver, 2004; Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005), not only have
educators admitted that they have â€œcheatedâ€ on high-stakes tests, they have acknowledged knowing colleagues who have cheated as well. Share a tale of cheating with another educator and in return expect a â€œHave I got a story for you!â€
And a quote from a teacher:
I am a single parent, so, hell yeah, I have the motivation to want to have good scores.
I donâ€™t want to lose that money. I have a kid to raise. I think that we need to be held
accountable, but when you tie our money to that [test results] and every set of kids
you get is different, it is so frustratingâ€¦ I was told by a principal I get all the
problem children, and I get all the low kids because they know that I will work with
them. Is that fair? [And] the principals donâ€™t care. If you can do it and get away with
it, they want you to do it. I donâ€™t care what anyone says. I have gone and talked to
two principals in the past about it, and they donâ€™t want to hear it.
Of course the teachers are cheating.Â You get the results that match your incentives â€“ regardless of how you get those results.Â As difficult as it may be to believe, teachers are no different from the folks who brought us the subprime mess.Â If you â€œincentâ€ them, they will deliver.Â But, be sure you define the goal correctly.Â If itâ€™s numbers you want, itâ€™s numbers you will get.Â Lehman was a remarkable performer in terms of its return on equity.Â Heck, yes!Â What the folks there didnâ€™t tell us because they were so rewarded was that they were spinning debt off the books.Â When you have little to no debt, your ROE does climb.Â And if you give kids the questions in advance or coach them during the exam, you will get your test scores and the rewards for your school and teachers.Â The problem is Lehman eventually collapsed.Â So it is with the test scores â€“ it all eventually comes out. Â A child who performs at the 70th percentile in second grade with the help of a teacher will land in third grade performing at the 20th-30th percentile.Â The 3rd=grade teacher has two choices: (1) work with these students to get their performance up; or (2) help them cheat on the exam.Â The second is easier and the downside slight.Â A five-day unpaid suspension may not be enough to deter cheating.Â The loss of a license to teach for 3 months (and not in the summer) may do it.Â If the principals and other administrators do not enforce the rules on cheating, they can hardly be surprised that, according to this study, it is rampant. See THE SEVEN SIGNS OF ETHICAL COLLAPSE for more information on what pressure does to organizations and individual employees.Â The schools are just a tad behind the business world in learning the lessons of incentives and performance results.