There Will Be Cheating

States are starting to report their annual AYP scores for 2011 -- most of them not coming anywhere close to meeting Duncan's 82 percent failure prediction from earlier this year  (EdWeek).  We don't have all the 2011 results for Illinois yet but ISBE has apparently ordered an "erasure analysis" to determine if there are any patterns of cheating on the annual state tests as has been found in some other districts and states (Atlanta and most recently Philadelphia, along with a handful of likely cheating incidents nationwide reported by USA Today).  The Tribune editorial page asks Is it happening here? and my answer is "probably, yes."  There's been a tremendous amount of pressure to increase test scores in CPS over the past several years, along with various problems with test security practices, and - let's be honest -- a pattern of in appropriate behavior in government (think Blago, the clout list, and any other number of scandals).  I'm not saying that it's happening everywhere, or even in most places, just that my guess would be that we're going to find out eventually that some of the most dramatic (hard to believe) test score increases and last-minute turnarounds will turn out to have been produced by teachers and administrators (and maybe even area-level folks) who have given students some extra help.  What's your take on cheating in CPS, first-hand or from afar?  What do you think the ISBE audit will find?

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  • It's not just test scores where 'cheating' happens. CPS has proudly touted its increased Freshman On-Track rate, which is based on grades. They have turned a blind eye to evidence that schools are 'passing students through' in freshman classes so that they perform better on that metric. Given that we have so many kids apparently coming to class and learning enough to pass, it's telling that our 9th grade EXPLORE and 10th grade PLAN scores are totally flat - these kids didn't learn anything more than when they failed their classes and sat these tests. There was also evidence over the last few years that schools were moving students out of 11th grade (in the IMPACT records) to avoid them taking the ACT, thus raising their test scores. In some places this was encouraged by the area officer (I'm looking at you Rick Mills). Some of these things are hard to detect, but others can be pretty easily revealed with a simple data analysis. It's just that CPS isn't bothering to look because they're too busy patting themselves on the back for 'raising the metrics'.

  • "There was also evidence over the last few years that schools were moving students out of 11th grade (in the IMPACT records) to avoid them taking the ACT, thus raising their test scores."

    You are correct. I presented solid evidence of that (changes in enrollment numbers by grade just before and after the ACT testing window and even an e-mail from school staff that very plainly said their CAO instructed them to do so) to a supervisor at Central Office. Guess what happened? Nothing. Huberman's people didn't want to hear it. It's not hard to see if you look for it. Juniors suddenly become Seniors (because Seniors don't take any major District-wide tests like Explore, Plan, or ACT), and a few weeks later they are suddenly Juniors again.

  • Drop the ISAT joke! The Washington Posts Answer Sheet articles are some of the best. This time Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, talks about the mess public education is in due in part to Obama keep on keeping on preparing students to take life long multiple tests?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/darling-hammond-the-mess-we-are-in/2011/07/31/gIQAXWSIoI_blog.html

  • It seems pretty obvious that the anonymous commenter's are extremely knowledgeable about potential manipulation of the PSAE process and grade inflation in their high schools. These type of comments send chills down my back when I think what is to come with Illinois' Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) of 2010 requirement linking teacher evaluation ratings to value added measurement of test scores of CPS students. Even though the test which will eventually used here in Chicago, being currently developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers based on the Common Core, will be computer administered I have real concerns over even more sophisticated test cheating than changing answers by use of an eraser.

    If data bases at National Security Agency/Central Security Service can be penetrated I have little doubt that electronically collected test data can also be manipulated by schools. Yesterday in a meeting with CPS CEO Brizard and Chief Education Officer Donoso I brought how complex implementation of the PERA requirements were going to be for students with disabilities was going to be for CPS. Which they both seemed to recognize to be a reality.

    But the specter of computer test security for students being tested in thousands of classrooms in relation to the super high stakes testing that is coming really is a major undertaking in the current economic environment. Money for implementation of this new testing regime may not be freely appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly and implementation may become effectively an unfunded mandate on CPS and other school districts in Illinois. Without money appropriated by the state to school districts, especially CPS which is so large, we could see a rebellion against PERA, the new test, and the Common Core standards themselves.

    Rod Estvan

  • Not everyone is a cheater. I am the administrator over testing and on track at my school, and I will not participate in this type of behavior AND neither will my teachers because we look at multiple metrics, and we have no issue asking why people's results don't match.

    Cheating is not worth the risk to myself or my staff. We have invested too much time into what we do to harm kids or risk losing our careers. I am hoping that several other people feel and respond the same. If not, they cast a shadow on all of us.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Amen! To cheat you would have to actually give the test some merit. Which we do not. Of course we want kids to do well...then the district stays out of our hair. But we do it with hard work and good teaching. If there are cheaters in CPS expose 'em and drum 'em out. Our kids deserve better.

    I teach real curriculum that my students will use for the rest of their life. The ISAT is the lowest common denominator in my day. It's a loud fart in an otherwise five star dinner.

  • great comments -- here's a little more about the ISAT probe ISBE is conducting -- apparently ordered "proactively" last spring but not publicized (not sure that fits the def. of the word but anyway) --
    from WBEZ

    http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-looks-possible-cheating-isats-90157?

  • Our school has a refurbished lab. Our area officer told us we could NOT use it for teaching students about computers because it will only be used as a testing toom--ONLY a testing room. What a waste!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    What idiot CAO said that!!! The Common Core Standards explicitly has technology embedded into the standards. So basically, children will not address the standards with technology embedded in them. If your school is like ours, we have outdated computers in the classroom and most of our discretionary money is spent on support teachers.
    Please share what lame brain CAO said that!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Seriously. That is just the type of backwards thinking and fatalism that will ruin education.

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