Teachers Pressured to Cheat and Report Higher Test Scores

How competitive has it gotten if we are seeing teachers being pressured to report higher test scores, with some of them even getting busted for cheating?

A report in the Detroit Free Press found that nearly one in three Michigan teachers feel pressured — from parents, superiors or others — to change students’ grades on standardized tests. I had a feeling things would eventually boil over when Governor Snyder announced in 2011 that he would begin stressing testing and tying it directly into teacher performance and evaluations.

The survey results show the pressures on educators as the state incorporates student progress and test scores as a major factor in teacher evaluations starting this year. Additionally, the survey revealed that some teachers are in fact caving in to this pressure and admitted to some form of cheating to improve a student’s standardized test score. Forms of cheating include encouraging students to redo problems, coaching the students during the test, and erasing and changing test answers.

As a parent, this concerns me. I see the need for Gov. Snyder’s bill that ties teacher evaluations to student growth, because when it comes down to it, the majority of jobs out there are judged on performance. Raises, promotions, and job security are all tied into performance on the job.

However, I am concerned about the effect this new bill has had.

I distinctly remember a lunch I had with a long-time friend and current high school teacher with a local school district when this bill was passed. “If Governor Snyder wants higher test scores, he’ll get ’em.” When I asked her to explain her sharp comment she mentioned that teachers she knows feel completely frustrated that the teaching process has become so “systemized” that it leaves very little satisfaction in the profession for teachers who “truly WANT to teach.” She likened the process from exploring young minds to simply shuffling kids through the school system by teaching them how to test. Not exactly healthy motivation for future teachers and those who want to shape young minds.

Additionally, I want to know the honest truth when it comes to my children’s education and knowledge. We can’t “afford” a sugar coated version. These are the days when we work on their “weaknesses” and build them into strengths. We can’t do this if they are covered up and we’re led to believe they are doing better than they actually are.

I’m empathetic to the teachers’ points and concerns but also see the need for Michigan students to improve the scores to compete globally and nationally.

I am hoping the teachers can be given the tools they need to do the best job they can do, rather than feel pressured to cheat or change standardized test scores. It’s clear that our children are caught in the middle of the plight between our Governor and our children’s teachers.

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