Is there ever a worthy explanation as to why a teacher would help her students cheat on a test?
According to a veteran Philadelphia teacher, yes, there is.
“I wanted them to succeed, because I believe their continued failure on these terrible tests crushes their spirit,” the unidentified teacher told the Notebook.org, a Philadelphia Public School site that serves as an independent voice for parents, educators and students. The teacher says she regularly provided assistance including definitions to unfamiliar words, comments on writing samples during tests, and says that she even discussed reading passages that they didn’t understand.
“They’d have a hard time, and I’d break it down for them,” she said she did it in response to receiving intense pressure from administrators to raise scores at her former school.
In a city made up of 43.2 percent Blacks and with the possibility of schools being shut down and teachers losing their jobs, she says cheating was “widespread” and “constant” amongst almost all of her students who were “poor and African-American.”
“Math teachers were sitting down in the seat next to the children, with a pencil, actually working out problems with them. I saw that many times,” she said.
In Pennsylvania the annual testing regimen is spread out over weeks involving six sections scheduled to take approximately eight hours to complete. The unidentified teacher came forward amid a publication of a 2009 report that identified dozens of schools across Pennsylvania and Philadelphia having statically suspicious test results on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).
Currently 38 schools are being investigated in the Philadelphia district for having suspicious results in the 2009 report.
In the past two years, 22 states and the District of Columbia have had confirmed cases of cheating. In July, BET.com reported that almost 80 percent of the schools in Atlanta falsified responses on the state’s standardized test.
Though it’s disheartening to hear these reports, let’s hope that the key issue, ways to help students perform at higher standardized-testing levels, becomes an administration priority.
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