In a school culture where we teachers try so hard to help students be honest (and not to cheat), why then do we hear of more and more teachers cheating themselves?
The answer is simple. More and more (ignorant, ill-educated, ill-informed) legislators are imposing sanctions on teachers–and schools!–where students are not performing yet better on high-stakes standardized tests.
When NCLB was the only game in town, some schools across the country were even shut down because their students didn’t show adequate yearly progress. When Obama announced the voluntary excision of NCLB from the states, we thought sure there would be more states opting out, but that hasn’t proven to be the case. I think it is because legislators still demand standardized-test proof that schools are doing well, and states haven’t come up with alternative measures for it.
I think the direction is clear. At present, many schools base performance pay on student scores. It’s a short leap to setting salaries by test scores, and a small tumble down the precipice to firing teachers based on these scores.
No wonder teachers are induced to cheat. Here are some ways they do it.
My favorite way for adults to handle these unfair measurements is John Gatto’s Bartleby Project. In Melville’s short story, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the main character handles his daily grind by politely saying, “I would prefer not to.”
Of course, teachers can’t say that, but students can. I wish that Gatto’s approach would become a national movement.