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NCLB Outrages

Government Seeks Help to Stop Teacher-Led Cheating

'Best Practices,' already a suspect term is further corrupted by Arne Duncan's office. I've never liked the term 'best practices,' finding it arrogant, presumptuous, and really just a 'sell' to push a product or a personality. But since the Feds started using it the term becomes even more ridiculous. And here, it seems to have reach the penultimate: "Best practices" in cheating prevention.

The Feds don't need to spend taxpayer money holding a symposium and publishing a manual on cheating prevention. The Feds needs to stop denying poverty and stop holding teachers hostage to student standardized test scores.

By Greg Toppo

Washington -- The Obama administration is creating a manual showing how schools can fight teacher-led cheating on standardized tests, asking educators to help stomp out "testing irregularities."

The move comes 10 months after a USA TODAY investigation found high erasure rates on standardized tests in many District of Columbia public schools, and six months after Georgia's governor released findings of a major investigation that found widespread cheating in Atlanta public schools.

The U.S. Department of Education says it will host a symposium on cheating and publish "best practices" recommendations on how to prevent, detect and respond to cheating in schools.

The government wants to know, among other things, how school culture plays a role in cheating and how school districts handle wrongdoing when it's found.

It also wants to know what can be done "to restore the credibility of a school system that has been tarnished by alleged or actual wrongdoing." It's giving educators a month to submit their best ideas.

Department spokesman Daren Briscoe says valid student performance data are essential and that "even the hint of testing misconduct can undermine school reform efforts. That's why we're taking every possible step to ensure the integrity of these data."

The request, in a notice filed Tuesday in the Federal Register, comes almost exactly a decade after President George W. Bush signed the 2002 No Child Left Behind education reform law, which relies heavily on standardized testing in reading and math.

The USA TODAY probe, published last March, found that 103 D.C. schools had test erasure rates that indicated possible cheating from 2008 to 2010.

A few days later, District of Columbia officials reopened a cheating probe, and U.S. Department of Education officials are assisting.

Bob Schaffer of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an advocacy group, says he wonders why the department is "wasting time and money collecting information that is available from state education agencies, such as Georgia, which demonstrated how to do a 'best practice' cheating investigation."

"Instead of spinning its wheels," Schaffer said, "the department should make wrapping up its long-delayed review of test score manipulation in Washington, D.C., public schools a top priority."

— Greg Toppo
USA Today


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