Teachers cheating

Teachers at some Texas schools may be cheating to boost their students’ scores. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

An analysis uncovered strong evidence of organized, educator-led cheating on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills at schools in Houston and Dallas, along with suspicious scores in hundreds of other schools, the Dallas Morning News reported.

. . . The newspaper analyzed scores from 7,700 Texas schools, searching for ones with unusual gaps in performance between grades or subjects. It said research has shown that schools that are weak in one subject or grade are typically weak in others.

. . . More than 200 schools had large, unexplained score gaps between grades or between the TAKS and other standardized tests.

While fourth graders at Houston’s Sanderson Elementary do very poorly on the math test, fifth graders at Sanderson posted the highest scores in the state.

Via Education Gadfly.

About Joanne


  1. Incentives to cheat are high (and getting higher all the time), but what happens to those who are caught? Is there any system to catch cheats? Are there any safeguards at all? When things that didn’t matter suddenly do, the cheating starts. And the first cheaters have the easiest time, since the security systems for things that don’t matter are usually less than for things that do.

    The honor system: some honor required.

    And I wouldn’t blame just the teachers (in general I wouldn’t, though in this case they’re the prime, primary, and principle suspects): the secretaries and principals have the tests next, followed by the district administration. There are plenty of unguarded steps before the tests are sent to the scoring computers.

  2. I’ve got a simple suggestion for punishment here: revocation of the teaching credential. With all the moral relativism and things in academia, the one thing I still hear trumpeted as a virtue by all is honesty. Any teacher who would resort to cheating DOES NOT belong in a classroom, and the profession of teaching should make that clear. There are no excuses for cheating by a teacher, high stakes tests or not. It sends too awful of a message to students about what’s within the bounds of decent behavior.

    If a teacher is suspected of cheating, have a hearing where both sides get a good hearing, and then revoke the credential if guilt is determined.

  3. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    While I am not totally against alternative methods of testing I think that most alternative methods would lead to more cheating instead of less. It would seem that standardized testing should be a component of whichever means of testing is used so that there is a benchmark to use.

  4. No doubt about it. We are shocked, shocked to see that cheating is going on here. Seriously, I have seen similar anomolies here in X city in Y state. This is what happens when you have the foxes counting the chickens in the henhouse.

  5. Richard Brandshaft says:

    “more than 90 percent of the students getting perfect or near-perfect scores.” Either the cheaters weren’t very smart or it was some kind of counting glitch. As a retired programmer, my first thought is a computer bug.

    Even assuming malicious intent, jon is right, the teachers aren’t the only suspects. In fact, the first place I’d look is some “choke point” where one or very few people handled all the scores.

    If cheaters can be definitely pinned down, there may be a remedy in place. I have read of civil servants being criminally prosecuted for padding resumes. The theory is that his salary was higher because he padded his resume, so he stole part of his salary by fraud. If anyone involved has a direct financial incentive for higher scores, the same principle would seem to apply. If any lawyers are reading this, please comment.

  6. I live in Texas and have witnessed firsthand the results of alleged cheating, namely in the Wilmer-Hutchins school district, a suburb on the south side of Dallas. Wilmer Hutchins has been taken over by the state for various things, including not being able to meet payroll, alleged criminal wrongdoing by school board members and the superintendent, and for “unusual test scores” on the TAKS test. One of the schools that scored below average in one grade had the highest score in the entire state for the next grade level. Students have come forward and told how teachers walked around the room and prompted kids to pick correct answers. The principals of the two elememtary schools in question have been forced to resign, but I don’t know what they have done to the teachers. I think they should lose their credential for sure, maybe even more. I think that they are really dumb in the first place to not think that a large discrepancy in scores like that would raise warning flags.

  7. Geez, I kept waiting for someone else to take a cheap shot at Mike in Texas but it looks like no one else is willing to step up to the plate….

    So Mike, how’d your school do last year on th TAKS? This year? Big improvement. Really big improvement?

    Who says a little incentive doesn’t result in, oh, creative solutions?


  1. Teachers Cheating Down In The Lone Star State?

    What concerns us here at the ‘Wonks is that we believe cheating on these tests by both teachers and administrators to be fairly common-place.

    The cheating ranges from teachers having “little helpers” (placards with spelling rules, math formulas et…