Michigan teachers report pressure to cheat

Nearly 30% of Michigan teachers report pressure to cheat on standardized exams, according to a survey by the Detroit Free Press. In addition, 34% of public school educators said administrators, parents or others pressure teachers to change grades.

At schools that don’t meet federal standards, the tension is higher: About 50% say pressure to change grades is an issue, and 46% say pressure to cheat on the tests is a problem.

Some cave in — about 8% say they changed grades within the last school year, and at least 8% admit to some form of cheating to improve a student’s standardized test score.

Another 17% report cheating by a colleague.

However, the most common cheating method — writing down vocabulary words to teach to next year’s classes — doesn’t seem like cheating to me. Does Michigan give exactly the same tests from year to year? That would be asking for trouble.

Two out of three teachers surveyed oppose using standardized tests to gauge student achievement and 95% oppose using standardized tests to make decisions about teacher salaries.

Michigan will base 25% of a teacher’s evaluation on students’ progress by 2013-14; that will rise to 50% in 2015-16.

In addition, the state education department plans to raise standards on the state exam, making it harder to score as proficient. “ACT scores show only 17% of Michigan students leave high school prepared for college,” notes the Free Press.


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  1. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    The proper answer to a principal who asks you to change a grade:

    “You’re the principal. I can’t stop you from changing the grade. Change it if you want, and I’ll smile and go along. I’m not going to fight you over the grade, and I won’t undercut your decision. If you want to give me a fixed grade distribution as a written policy, I’ll follow it to the letter and give you whatever grades you want. Heck, if you want to give me an order in writing to change the grade. But I’m not going to take responsibility for changing a grade that I think is accurate. I’m not going to misrepresent my professional judgments.”

    Of course, if you take this advice, your career might be short.

    In one of life’s great ironies, principals aren’t always that keen on principles.

  2. And the cheating will rise as teacher pay/ job retention is tied to student performance. There’s a simple solution. If the state feels these tests are so important, they should be the ones to administer them.

  3. The proper answer to a principal who asks you to change a grade:

    Try no.

  4. Just wait when the first athlete starts screaming that he can’t play hoops or football cause he hasn’t been able to achieve a 2.0 GPA in required coursework. After all, we can’t stop them from playing sports, that would be a blow to their self-esteem (never mind that 17% of the students are actually college ready, and according to another study, 47% of the residents of Detroit are functional illiterates).