Cheating On Standardized Tests Confirmed In 30 States


If you think you’ve been reading a lot recently about test cheating scandals in our public schools, you are absolutely right.

A new analysis by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing reports confirmed cases of test cheating in thirty states and the District of Columbia over the past three academic years.

Here’s the list of those states,
according to FairTest’s records:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, 
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, 
Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, 
Ohio, Oklahoma,     Oregon
, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, 
Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington.

Atlanta School Cheating Scandal Not Unexpected

The cheating scandal that rocked the 48,000-student Atlanta school system is the most recent case, but many testing experts say that although it was egregious, it was not entirely unexpected. The reason: As long as test scores are used to make decisions on rewards or punishments, including for schools or educators, a small percentage of people will be willing to bend the rules — or break them.

Two Schools Of Thought

The allegations of systematic test alteration by teachers and principals in so many states have highlighted a split between those arguing for improved test management and security and those who ask if it’s better to scrap high-stakes testing altogether.

From Education Week:

Yong Zhao, the associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon, in Eugene, used the Atlanta situation as a jumping-off point for a five-part series in his blog Zhao Learning. The United States should “ditch testing,” he believes.
In an interview, he said that the country should move to a portfolio-based assessment system that measures students in several areas.

“You can’t fix this by changing internal security,” Mr. Zhao said. “If the stakes are so high that the teachers don’t even believe the measurement itself, they’re going to try to cheat.”

In contrast, Gregory J. Cizek, a professor of educational measurement and evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who assisted state investigators in their Atlanta probe, said that there are no suggestions that sports should be eliminated just because some athletes cheat. In his view, tests produce high-quality information that educators need to make good decisions.

Cheating In A High-Stakes Era

The reality is that states and school districts have grappled with a number of cheating scandals in recent years amid an increased emphasis nationally on high-stakes testing, especially as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001.

According to Fair Test, erasing errors and filling in correct test answers is just one of many ways to “cheat” on standardized tests. Across the nation, strategies that boost scores without improving learning, including narrow teaching to the test and pushing out low-scoring students, are spreading rapidly.

Is Better Policing The Solution? Or Abandoning High-Stakes Testing Entirely?

Is better enforcement the answer to this rash of cheating on standardized tests? It seems more likely that such policing will damage the school climate, push kids to dislike school even more and drop out in even greater numbers.

A better solution would be to get rid of the high-stakes uses of standardized testing because they cheat students out of a high-quality education, and institute instead the kind of alternative testing, such as the use of portfolios, that will ensure a quality education.

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Photo Credit: jamesnaruke via Creative Commons


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago

very sad

Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago

I know it's true that many teachers now days "teach to the test". Many of the "fun" learning is gone, which is really a shame. These tests have become much too important. If teachers feel they need to cheat something is very, very wrong. This is not the example I want for my children.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Dumitru Z.
Dumitru Z.6 years ago

This means you'll have less specialists, with less knowledge, trying hard to succeed in their careers by cheating and forging.

Marc Benner
Marc B6 years ago

The problem is that we (or at least politicians) overestimate the tests, because the ones who sell the test tell them that the results are worth paying money for it.
Better test results show nothing more than that pupils have learned to write better tests - fullstop
It has not much to do with their skill in life.

Berny P.
berny p6 years ago

.so in other words: we can expect to live in a society of brain-less cheaters and liars who seek the easy way out?

Such will weaken the social structure on all levels: moral/ethical & business.

Hail to the power of incompetence!

Alexandra O.
Alex O6 years ago

I believe this, like most things, starts at home. If kids have so little regard for their education that they cheat, obviously, parents haven't taught them a key ingredient: you want to get anywhere in life? It would probably do you well not to cheat. It's not rocket science, nor is it difficult. Give your children a little self respect and an understanding of what it means to be honest and who knows where they might go. So instead of blaming the teachers and the vast school system, go back to where it started, fix what's broken and take responsibility. Novel idea, huh? Go figure.

Ross E.
Ross E6 years ago

With so much pressure put on students and teachers with regard to standardized tests...HELLO? What's the surprise surrounding the cheating. I don't condone it, but kids want to graduate and teachers want to keep their jobs. If this is such a deciding factor (which it is, ridiculously!) cheating's going to happen. Let's not monitor the tests more closely, let's come up with better, more effectiveways of measuring student achievement and teacher performance."No child left behind," effectively leaves ALL children behind!

Carole L.
Carole L6 years ago

Mary L. , the "No Child Left Behind Act" was proposed by George W. Bush (R). It was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare6 years ago

I only cheated twice: in the 1st and 5th grade, so I'm not an expert on this topic, but I think students cheat because they have 0 respect for the educational system. I say this because I've noticed that they also cheat on little tests and pop quizes that arent that important, you know why? Because they no longer cheat to save themselves of harsh punishments or failing grades; they cheat because....they can.