The Only Thing Worse Than A Standardized Test Is A School Cheating On That Test

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Answers changed on school testsStandardized tests are the absolute worst. That’s right, I’m one of those educational hippies who thinks they should be disposed of because they are inadequate measures of intelligence that favor the white and wealthy. However, they are here and their results have, for the most part, been made critically important to schools. So for a school in Seattle to try to fudge their results doesn’t do anyone any favors. And for whoever was put in charge of the cheating to do such a terrible job, that is worst of all.

For the first time, Washington State has thrown out an entire school’s math and reading scores due to cheating. Beacon Hill International school in Seattle, WA had all of its test scores invalidated after so many multiple choice answers were changed from wrong to right that nearly 100% of the school’s students passed the test.

Come on, cheaters. This isn’t that difficult. Anyone who has ever been to middle school knows that you change some of the answers but not all of them, and you aim for about 70% passing, which is not too much to raise suspicions. You work in education. I shouldn’t have to spell this out for you.

Neither the state nor the school district is calling these answer changes “cheating” yet, saying that it is up to Seattle Public Schools to make that determination. Instead, Nathan Olsen, the spokesman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction explained to the Seattle Times that, ““significant alterations’ on the tests indicate that protocols weren’t followed.” Exactly. Just like a face lift is a significant alteration on the face that indicates that nature’s protocols weren’t followed.

In fact, the school district is so perplexed by the bad cheating attempt that they don’t know what to call it. Clover Codd (my new favorite name ever), who runs the district’s research, evaluation and assessment department, said:

“We are not convinced that cheating was the motivation…it’s such an odd case. It’s perplexing. There was heavy erasure in every single classroom and every single grade, from incorrect answers to correct answers, and virtually 100 percent of the students met standard.”

What are some other motivations that could be behind this? Someone with severe OCD who needed to make sure all of the answers were correct or they were going to lose it? A  group of first through fourth graders used their devious cunning and skill to put together a massive cheating ring but screwed it up because their leader is ten-years-old? A staff member who was terrified that the school was going to lose funding because of poor test results? You could almost understand that last one, except that it’s not true. As the Seattle Times explains:

…In Washington state, and in Seattle, teachers and schools don’t get any financial bonuses based on test-score results, and the results don’t play a large role in their evaluations either. In Seattle, low scores at most trigger a closer look by the principal.

Okay, so…why would you…why take the trouble…hm. I think we need more of a focus on “problem-solving” and “risk versus reward” in our schools because clearly this is an area where they are lacking.

(Photo: Chad McDermott / Shutterstock)