How schools cheat

How do schools cheat in reporting on their own performance? Lisa Snell counts the ways in Reason Magazine.

Whether the topic is violence, test scores, or dropout rates, school officials have found myriad methods to paint a prettier picture of their performance. These distortions hide the extent of schools’ failures, deceive taxpayers about what our ever-increasing education budgets are buying, and keep kids locked in failing institutions. Meanwhile, Washington—which has set national standards requiring 100 percent of school children to reach proficiency in math and reading by 2014—has been complicit in letting states avoid sanctions by fiddling with their definitions of proficiency.

The federal government is spending billions to improve student achievement while simultaneously granting states license to game the system. As a result, schools have learned to lie with statistics.

One trick is to suspend low-performing students before the test dates.

About Joanne


  1. If it’s fraud it ought to be prosecuted.

    After all, those evil business men go to the slam, seemingly on a weekly basis, for cooking the books and all they’re doing is stealing money from adults.

    In the spirit of the hyperbole so beloved by public education proponents, the bureaucrats mentioned in this article are stealing public money and children’s futures to avoid doing the job they were hired to do.

    Seeing a few of the worst with their jackets on their heads, their hands in cuffs, on their way into a federal courtroom might have, you should pardon the expression, an educational effect on the rest.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Perhaps there needs to be a form of statistical sampling outside the control of the administration. Usually the person who signs the checks is not also the auditor.

  3. Lou Gots says:

    Walter is right: we cannot have the foxes counting the chickens.

    Anyway, the whole thing is a farce. The standards of proficiency are so absurdly low that answering “C” on the multiple choice test will get you by in my state.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    Ahh, another “working paper” leaked to the press, that way the story gets out without having anyone check your facts for accuracy

  5. Pretty fair amount of copy about teachers and administrators conspiring to cheat on the TAKS. You wouldn’t know about anything like that, would you?