If there is one thing the Barometer knows is a certainty in this life it is that the human mind knows no limitations when it comes to figuring out ways to meet numbers goals without actually having to achieve the very purpose of those number goals. If a company implements a wellness program — rewarding employees for healthy living– healthy living will not be the goal. The goal will be to meet the metrics used by the company for giving employees healthy living rewards. For example, if the company gives employees Fitbits and rewards employees for reaching 10,000 steps per day, one will soon find Fitbits strapped to hamsters that are running in wheels, or strapped to the top of a powered-up table saw. Or even just sitting at their desks shaking the Fitbits with their hands.
Enter high school students, not in pursuit of knowledge or excellence, who just need a GPA to get into the college of their dreams. These would be the students whose parents could not afford to lay down some serious scratch for bribing coaches, etc. There is a new crop of online and alternative schools in which high school students can take the really difficult courses, rack up AP courses, or just take courses in what employees at some of the schools say “lack sufficient academic rigor.” The courses count on their high school transcripts as completed courses, and, well, the GPAs do rise.
In some of the alternative schools, administrators’ bonuses are geared to the number of sessions they deliver to a large part-time student population. The more courses, the more course sessions completed, the higher the bonuses. So, what we have in these schools are students there to game the GPA system who are being led by instructors and administrators who are gaming their system for reaching high sessions numbers. Some of these schools have created symbiotic dynamics — the desire to game is their common fuel.
The whistleblowers are out and about in the schools. Next stop? Regulation of both alternative courses and the businesses that offer them.