Schoolteacher Cheating: Cheating Students

Philadelphia-School-Cheating-Scandal-WidensPhiladelphia’s public school system has joined several other big-city school systems, such as those in Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C., in widespread teacher-led cheating on standardized academic achievement tests. So far, the city has fired three school principals, and The Wall Street Journal reports, “Nearly 140 teachers and administrators in Philadelphia public schools have been implicated in one of the nation’s largest cheating scandals.” (1/23/14) ( Investigators found that teachers got together after tests to erase the students’ incorrect answers and replace them with correct answers. In some cases, they went as far as to give or show students answers during the test.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, identifies the problem as district officials focusing too heavily on test scores to judge teacher performance, and they’ve converted low-performing schools to charters run by independent groups that typically hire nonunion teachers. But William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, said cheating by adults harms students because schools use test scores to determine which students need remedial help, saying, “There is no circumstance, no matter how pressured the cooker, that adults should be cheating students.”

While there’s widespread teacher test cheating to conceal education failure, most notably among black children, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and sometimes referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, measures student performance in the fourth and eighth grades. In 2013, 46 percent of Philadelphia eighth-graders scored below basic, and 35 percent scored basic. Below basic is a score meaning that a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his grade level.

Basic indicates only partial mastery. It’s a similar story in reading, with 42 percent below basic and 41 percent basic. With this kind of performance, no one should be surprised that of the state of Pennsylvania’s 27 most poorly performing schools on the SAT, 25 are in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s four-year high-school graduation rate in 2012 was 64 percent, well below the national rate of 78 percent. Even if a student graduates from high school, what does it mean? What a high-school diploma means for white students is nothing to write home about, as suggested by the fact that every year, nearly 60 percent of first-year college students must take remedial courses in English or mathematics. What a high-school diploma means for black students is nothing less than a disaster, as pointed out by Drs. Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom in their 2009 book, “No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning.” They state that “blacks nearing the end of their high school education perform a little worse than white eighth-graders in both reading and U.S. history, and a lot worse in math and geography.” Little has changed since the book’s publication.

Hite rightfully said that test cheating by adults harms students, but that harm pales in comparison with the harm done by teachers awarding fraudulent grades and conferring fraudulent high-school diplomas, particularly to black students. You say, “Williams, what do you mean by fraudulent diplomas?” When a student is given a high-school diploma, that attests that he can read, write and compute at a 12th-grade level, and when he can’t do so at the eighth-grade level, that diploma is fraudulent. What makes it so tragic is that neither the student nor his parents are aware that he has a fraudulent diploma. When a black person is not admitted to college, flunks out of college, can’t pass a civil service test or doesn’t get job promotions, he is likelier to blame racial discrimination than his poor education.

Politicians, civil rights organizations and the education establishment will do nothing about the fraud. In fact, they give their full allegiance to the perpetrators.

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  • UCSPanther

    This cheating has two negative effects:

    1. It disguises that the school has problems, thus allowing students to fall through the cracks and graduate with substandard proficiency in both literacy and numeracy, which more or less limits their ability to find employment or survive in post-secondary education.

    and 2. It sends the wrong message that it is okay to cheat in order to get ahead.

    • pupsncats

      It is tiring when the taxpayer is asked to shell out more and more money to the public school system that has become a tragic joke.

      Exactly what is the definition of education these days? What are the results of the constant experimenting with kids as guinea pigs for the Progressives who own the system? Who really benefits from the public school system?

      • UCSPanther

        Case in point: Detroit.
        Highest paid teachers, but very low graduation rate.

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  • davarino

    It really makes me mad when we hear that the poor inner city schools need more money in order to bring up grades. Its not money they need. Hell, private schools out perform public schools hands down with much less money. The unions have ruined public schools. All they care about is their power and money. You tell them they have to test the kids, so what do they do, teach to the test. Then if that doesnt work, help the kids cheat. All with the intent of making them look good in order to get more money for themselves. If your going to be a teacher, TEACH, screw the NEA. If not, then do something else.
    I see education as being more important than any other issue. If our people are not educated then we can be lied to, and manipulated like sheep. Black leaders should be outraged over this, but they dont care. They side with the unions because it provides jobs to black people who are not educated themselves, and the system goes round and round. Politicians scratch union back and visa versa and they have no consideration for the children.

  • The Facts

    Kids are coming into high schools illiterate and innumerate already. Entire districts and systems are cheating, not just the students, teachers and principals. The schools don’t even issue letter grades and textbooks. People charged with fixing the school are only concerned with fixing the numbers. This is the process of the public education system being slowly turned into a prison system/corporatist charter school run by the stooges of corrupt politicians. When they “fix” the system, there is twice as much graft as when they broke the system

  • Mark McDonald

    Maybe they should stop paying bonuses based on the outcome of “standardized academic achievement tests.”

  • Demetrius Minneapolis

    This is perfect to create a nation of slaves/serfs. They never had a chance.

    • veeper

      never wanted a chance…..

      that would mean thinking and working…..

  • veeper

    black students responded….

    yo…we done passed da testes… yo don like the ways wes passes dem…..

  • Chiron_Venizelos

    The underlying problem is that teachers have tenure and thus cannot be fired.
    People who send their children to such schools are being cheated but the students who attend such schools are being cheated even more–they’re being cheated out of an education and a future.

  • veeper

    what’s the problem…..

    these educators are just doing what they see the Potus do……

  • aemoreira81

    The first question that must be asked is: Who precisely is deriving minority children of an education? Before one says “the teachers and teacher unions”, consider (here, war refers to World War 2) that pre-war, a work ethic, discipline, and morals were heavily emphasized from the home. Post-war, when that disappeared, with the replacement attitude of anything goes, education became de-emphasized, and because of the de-emphasis of education, a hard work ethic, and discipline, school test scores began to go down. In countries where they are still high, one needs to look no further than the culture therein. There is actually a cause-and-effect mechanism established between work ethic, discipline and morals, and test scores. (If one wants to blame the teacher unions still, one will need to propose a mechanism based in logic.)

    In short, the cheating by adults would not be needed if there wasn’t such a loser mentality at the homes of these pupils (along with a desire to get money linked to test scores). (This doesn’t excuse the cheating scandal; sometimes, the best way to send a point is to just let it happen.) Since this article only addresses the cheating scandal, I will not go on further to other related topics. Now, as for cracking these problems, hear me out here, but I’d take a strategy that is potentially high-risk, but with a high reward: I’d offer teachers who are found to have participated in this a 1-year suspension of their license but immunity from prosecution if they help in nailing the mastermind of the operation; this is usually directed from the top or near it.

    @Chiron_Venizelos:disqus – for reasons I noted above, I’m not so sure that it’s the teachers that are the problem. However, there aren’t enough parents (as opposed to sperm and egg donors) to go around for all of these children.

    • cathnealon

      I work in the inner city with the kids and the people who brought them into the world. I couldn’t agree more. The majority of these kids are living with PTSD by the time they get to preschool. The teachers willing to teach them have PTSD by the time they finish the first semester of teaching.

      It’s really cowardly to lay all the blame on the teachers. This author and others like him say ‘I can’t stop people from breeding, I can’t stop 70% of kids growing up with no father and a mess of boyfriends in and out of the mother’s(and I use that term lightly)house’ so might as well scapegoat the teachers.

      And I am not stereotyping people! Come on down and witness this every single day. Yes, there are a handful of good parents, mostly single mothers and fathers, who read to their children, treat them like human beings and expose them to good music but it’s like 2 out of 10,000!

      Racial gap? Achievement gap? What a bunch of nonsense. It’s the two-parent family gap that has destroyed these children’s lives before they even see a teacher. And unbelievably, the blind academics who go home to their nice houses with their well-cared for children, want the teacher, who is supposed to teach the three R’s, to deal with deep psychological and emotional wounds that the best psychologists would be hard pressed to deal with.

      • chuckie2u

        The problem is a Political System that has done this to the parents and kids as a control mechanism. Marx knew if the class room was controlled so would the masses. The Political Elites kiddies are not subject to the same problems.

      • fingerroll

        I agree 100%. I used to teach in the inner-city but left because the whole system stinks. The school wouldn’t allow you to flunk “too” many kids regardless of how little they attempted to learn or how little knowledge the demonstrated mastering. Students (and I use that term loosely) knew this and would refuse to do work in class. I had kids who would not take tests/quizzes, refused to do any homework, or any other work, would miss over 100 days of school and would still be expected to pass. When I told them that I was going to give them a zero for the missed work and that they would flunk my class…most of them replied “I don’t care”. Tell me Mr. Williams, how would you teach those kids? Public school is a prison sentence for many kids and many teachers are to blame, but not all of them. When the systems fail to hold teachers AND students accountable then the students suffer, but it isn’t all the teachers fault. Mr Williams has been teaching too long at his private prestigious university to fully understand that.

        • aemoreira81

          Walter Williams (I didn’t realize at first that that he wrote the article – he turns 78 on the dame day Thomas Sowell turns 84 at the end of June) also grew up in an era when the necessary aspects for success were still cherished in American society. Where he teaches (George Mason), however, most of the accepted students tend to be from the higher GPA set, as well as the higher SAT/ACT scale.

      • danfan

        somewhere ’round here ought to be Daniel Patrick Moynihan raising his prolific head

      • Atikva

        I agree, the parents are responsible for the EDUCATION of their children. When they fail this basic duty, it obviously becomes almost impossible for the teachers to provide these children with the KNOWLEDGE they so desperately need: reading fluently, writing legibly, English grammar and vocabulary, maths, sciences, history and geography – forget about indoctrination under the guise of “social studies”.

        But whether or not parents and children care about diplomas, it’s no excuse for the teachers to falsify academic records and issue fake diplomas. Those who refuse to do so and would quit rather than perform this type of fraud have my respect, the others add another nail in the coffin of America as we know her.

      • Drakken

        Well then, we have 500,000 veterans that are unemployed, maybe the time has come to put them in charge and change the whole dynamic.

  • chuckie2u

    One can applaude the Progressive Education System that has succeeded in dumbing down America. The Politiians creating a caste of multiple child single parenthood dependent on the Federal Government has been successful. I am sure those Globalist companies who will end up controlling America are impressed with these future leaders. Maybe they see a low information,low skill population as a means to an end in controlling an uneducated American population . It really cuts down on competition and can justify the reduction of protoplasm to save diminishing resources.

  • danfan

    “which students need remedial help, saying, “There is no circumstance, no matter how pressured the cooker, that adults should be cheating students.””
    have ya H.E.A.R.D of common core … #JackWagon

  • nagesha

    The bottom line here is that this is a reflection of leftist ideology in action-PC on steriods. PC says that we can’t look for answers to problems in the places where the answers actually lie (because the truths that one might find are both unpalatable and against one’s superimposed ideology), but rather we must create reasons for certain failures (in this case, essentially, the failures of the black student), and explore solutions to these failures based on these false premises. This is insanity. It takes many very smart people (yet incredibly cowardly, dishonest, and unwise) to avoid a truth to find ways to divert attention from the problem with elaborate schemes and placing the blame everywhere except where it belongs. Sick.

  • mtnhikerdude

    It take a “Cheating Teacher” to raise a child . Illiteracy rate in Detroit is 47% .
    Open a business and 47% of available job applicants can’t fill out the application or compute 6 x 6.
    Detroit’s infant mortality rate exceeds that of Botswana . It is sad. Detroit went from a 2 million population in 1947 to 700,000 today. 1.3 million people took a hike. They voted with their feet.

  • pupsncats

    Let’s face it. There is so much corruption in all of our institutions today that it is difficult to keep up with it.

    What kind of culture have we become where so many people don’t have a moral fiber within them?

  • verneoz

    The main problems with public schools are the US Dept. of Education and the teacher unions. Both work to lower standards and minimize accountability. Do away with DoE and return education control back to the States, the way it was prior to Carter. States’ control would increase accountability in short order.

    • blert

      The reality is somewhat inverted: the DoE mandates TOO MANY metrics.

      They’ve created a paperwork monster as bad as the Stasi. A shocking amount of the DoE’s budget goes to fund yet more studying, classifying, and spreadsheets so that the mandarins at Central can tease ‘improvements’ — statistics that show that the ‘system’ is working ever better.
      By raising standards, without changing the pupils, home life, or acculturation, (not acting White is a BIG issue that can’t be discussed) the DoE has created the same dynamic that had all of the apparats lying to their bosses in the Soviet era.
      When you can’t fill up the gas tank — bend the fuel meter instead!
      On its face, it’s impossible to blame the teachers for issues that are entirely out of their perview.

      The result is demoralization — writ large.

      Even high minded young teachers get burnt out when they find they can’t even control their classrooms. This breakdown in social order is pervasive in ghetto classrooms. Cell phone videos make this now flamingly apparent.
      DoE funding is fulsomely ineffectual at teaching the kids. It’s purpose is to keep the apparats aligned and politically active — for Democrats — of course. This makes it really a spoils vector.

  • John Davidson

    You can add Columbus, Ohio to this list. Big news there right now.

  • Richard Fontaine

    Wasn’t public school education supposed to be controlled by the customers. The parents of those children who will be taught there. That was the premise under which they originally got the rest of the local community to pay their property taxes so those children could be educated and become more productive members of our local community. Now it appears we are paying our local property taxes so public sector union bosses can siphon money to Democratic politicians and make work jobs can be created for millions of unqualified teachers. Now clearly common sense would say something is wrong with this picture.

  • Verysad