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Confession of a cheating teacher

By Benjamin Herold on Jul 28, 2011 10:06 AM

by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook/NewsWorks

 

[UPDATED: 7/29, 1:10 PM]

Reporter Benjamin Herold will be discussing this story on WHYY Radio (90.9 FM) this evening between 6:00 and 6:30.  Tune in to NewsWorks Tonight to hear more.

She said she knows she's a good teacher.

But she still helped her students cheat.

"What I did was wrong, but I don’t feel guilty about it,” said a veteran Philadelphia English teacher who shared her story with the Notebook/NewsWorks.

During a series of recent interviews, the teacher said she regularly provided prohibited assistance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams to 11th graders at a city neighborhood high school. At various times, she said, she gave the students definitions for unfamiliar words, discussed with students reading passages they didn’t understand, and commented on their writing samples.

On a few occasions, she said, she even pointed them to the correct answers on difficult questions.

“They’d have a hard time, and I’d break it down for them,” said the teacher matter-of-factly.

Such actions are possible grounds for termination. As a result, the Notebook/NewsWorks agreed to protect her identity.

The teacher came forward following the recent publication of a 2009 report that identified dozens of schools across Pennsylvania and Philadelphia that had statistically suspicious test results. Though her school was not among those flagged, she claims that adult cheating there was “rampant.”

The Notebook/NewsWorks is also withholding the name of her former school. because the details of her account have been only partially corroborated.

But her story seems worth telling.

During multiple conversations with the Notebook/NewsWorks, both on the phone and in person, the teacher provided a detailed, consistent account of her own actions to abet cheating. Her compelling personal testimonial highlighted frequently shared concerns about the conditions that high-stakes testing have created in urban public schools. The Notebook and NewsWorks believe that her confession sheds important light on the recent spate of cheating scandals across the country.

In the last two years alone, 22 states and the District of Columbia have had confirmed cases of cheating, according to Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of FairTest, a nonprofit critical of the “misuses and flaws” associated with standardized tests.

Almost always, says Schaeffer, those involved say they broke the rules because they felt pressured to generate unrealistic test score gains and avoid sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“That’s the background against which teachers and principals cross the line,” he said.

This teacher, a middle-aged White woman who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, told a story of tangled motivations and constant stress. At the end of it all, she said, she had trouble recognizing herself.

The intense pressure from administrators to raise scores at her former school did indeed contribute to her cheating, she claimed:

“It’s easy to lose your moral compass when you are constantly being bullied.”

But she was adamant that she did not care about boosting test scores. Instead, she described her cheating as an act of self-styled subversion, motivated by loyalty to her students.

“I wanted them to succeed, because I believe their continued failure on these terrible tests crushes their spirit,” she said.

Whatever the teacher's reasons, School District of Philadelphia officials say such actions are unacceptable.

“In the end, the children are the ones who suffer from an adult’s poor judgment, regardless of the motive,” said District spokesperson Elizabeth Childs. 

‘I wanted to be there for them’

At the beginning of PSSA testing each year, the teacher recalled, things weren’t so bad.

Administrators would convene pep rallies and distribute candy as incentives. Teachers would visit classrooms to check in on the students they taught. Some students would place a photo of their own children on their desk for inspiration.

“The first day, they would be really energetic,” she said. “But by the third day, kids would be putting their heads down, or just not coming.”

Pennsylvania’s annual testing regimen is a grind. Spread out over weeks, the tests involve six sections, which are scheduled to take approximately eight hours to complete.

The teacher found it painful to watch her students grow discouraged and disengaged as the tests dragged on.

“A lot of people understand how these tests deprive [students] of a real education,” she said. “But I also think that there’s a whole self-esteem side that people aren’t talking about.”

Almost all of her students were poor and African American. Most, she said, came into 11th grade reading far below grade level and dealing with challenging personal circumstances.

“It was absolutely amazing what was going on in their lives,” she said.

The teacher also felt that standardized tests like the PSSA, particularly the reading passages, were biased against her students.

One year, she recalls, most of the passages on the reading exam were about gardens.

“I was like, ‘What the [heck]?’” she said. “This is so unfair. It doesn’t have anything to do with my children’s lives.”

Regardless, the teacher said, administrators constantly pushed teachers to encourage students to buy into the importance of the tests.

She resisted.

Because her students were so unprepared and the tests so unfair, she believed the whole endeavor was a farce. Given that, she viewed encouraging her students to take the tests seriously as a betrayal of their trust.

That view, however, was met with charges of racism, according to her account.

She described a schism between some White teachers and the school’s largely African-American administration. The administrators, she said, mistook her stance that her students were being set up to fail for a belief that they were incapable of succeeding:

“They really believed we didn’t care about the kids, which is ridiculous.”

In retrospect, she wishes she had found a way to meaningfully address her students’ deep-seated academic deficiencies and the troubling school culture created by high-stakes testing.

Instead, she cheated.

As the testing sessions dragged on, she said, some students – those who hadn’t already given up, or grown “sullen,” or just started filling in random bubbles – would request help.

More often than not, she obliged.

“Kids would ask questions, and I would answer them,” she said.

For example, a student might ask what the word “amphibious” means.

Sometimes, she would give the student the definition. Other times, she would point to the place in the text where it was explained. On rare occasions, she would just direct the student to the correct response.

Part of her just wanted to keep her students engaged. Part of her wanted to transform the drudgery of test-taking into a learning opportunity – if nothing else, they might learn a new word. And part of her wanted to undermine the whole testing enterprise.

“I never went to any student who didn’t call me to help them cheat,” said the teacher. “But if somebody asked me a question, I wasn’t willing to say, ‘Just do your best.’ They were my students, and I wanted to be there for them.”

‘A pattern of intimidation’

The teacher still works in the District, now an entire year removed from the neighborhood high school where she taught for over a decade.

But it doesn’t take much to bring back what she describes as the trauma of her final years there.

A big problem, she said, was a revolving door of principals and vice principals, each of whom seemed to be more of a “bully” than the last.

Invariably, she maintains, teachers were the target: “I felt under siege.”

She also disliked what she saw as the school’s penchant for embracing fads rather than sticking to a consistent educational plan. At one point, it was graphic organizers. More recently, it was computer-assisted test preparation programs.

During her last year at the school, she said, administrators started pulling students out of her English classes without warning to cram last-minute test-taking strategies.

“They think there’s a magic bullet," she said.

Underlying it all, the teacher believes, was a mandate to bring test scores up and meet the school’s federal Adequate Yearly Progress performance targets.

“The prevailing message was, ‘We have to make AYP this year, or they’re going to shut our school down and you’re all going to lose your jobs.' At every professional development [session], that’s what we discussed.”

In response, adult cheating was “widespread” and “constant," she claimed:

“Math teachers were sitting down in the seat next to the children, with a pencil, actually working out problems with them. I saw that many times.”

By her account, administrators regularly saw such incidents and said nothing.

More damningly, in her mind, the school’s testing coordinator would use test makeup days to round up children who had started taking the exams, but hadn’t finished. The students would be brought to a room and made to complete sections they had begun days earlier – a clear violation of testing protocol.

The Notebook/NewsWorks spoke with another current District employee two other current District employees who was were at the same school in 2009 and confirmed parts of her account, including the claim that multiple teachers provided prohibited help to students during the test.

Spokesperson Childs said that the District hopes it employees report any cheating in a timely manner to facilitate effective investigations.

“We entrust the care of our young people to our principals and teachers, and the overwhelming majority of them are hardworking professionals who take on that task with fidelity,” said Childs.

The teacher who spoke with the Notebook/NewsWorks believes that most of those who cheated at her school did so to boost scores and protect their jobs.

But she is adamant that this was not her own motivation.

"I never believed for a minute that we would make AYP, no matter what I did," she said flatly.

So why compromise her integrity and risk so much?

“When you’re in a place where there’s a pattern of intimidation, you lose sight of what is important,” the teacher concluded. “I was someone I didn’t recognize by the end of my time there.”

Cheating hard to prove

Finally, the teacher believes, the realities of life in struggling inner city schools are starting to be made public.

"The fact that there is cheating on these tests is really just another layer of deception,” she said, citing underreporting of student truancy and school violence.

But over the past five years, allegations of cheating in the District have proven difficult to substantiate.

According to internal documents first obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the District investigated more than 30 claims of cheating between 2006 and 2010. Many involved allegations of similar testing infractions to those described by the teacher who spoke with the Notebook/NewsWorks – adults alerting students to questions they had answered incorrectly, allowing students to return to sections of the exam they had not previously completed, and the like.

Often, the investigators found partial evidence of infractions, or evidence of testing violations they attributed to ignorance of proper test administration protocols. In only a handful of instances did investigators find substantial evidence of intentional cheating.

District officials said discipline in such instances varied, depending on the situation. They have consistently described their test security protocols as "robust."

Currently, the District is investigating 28 schools flagged for suspicious results in the 2009 report that first motivated this teacher to come forward. Results of those investigations are supposed to be provided to the Pennsylvania Department of Education sometime in August.

The teacher who shared her story cautions that it can be difficult to understand the decisions made by people – teachers, administrators, students – in “failing” inner city schools in the NCLB era without having first walked in their shoes.

“I thought I was really strong-willed and sure of what was right and wrong,” she said. “My only defense would be that I lost track of what was right because it was so stressful to be there.”

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Comments (740)

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on August 6, 2011 12:12 pm

I definitely understand where you are coming from and something needs to be done instantaneously with standardized testing and accountability if we want to move forward in education -- but there is something to be said about certain TYPES of tests.

I know that when I'm at the emergency room the only thing that matters is the doctor that can perform under pressure, regardless of what he got on a test. But, we all know the MCAT and their boards to become doctors are strenuous, intense and maybe not necessary to my particular emergency...but I WANT that doctor to have passed the most ridiculously difficult test anyone has ever had with a pencil and his brain. It shows me he can endure long hours of tedious study & that he worked his tail off to be standing in front of me saving my life.

Yes, you can be a phenomenal teacher and a terrible test taker. All I know is that when I have kids -- I want their teachers to be both. Two people fail their Praxis exam. One throws his hands in the air and says, "well, I'm just not a good test taker so I'll go do something else." The other refuses to accept defeat, works his butt of and LEARNS how to pass and excel on the test....I want that person because it indicates the kind of character that person has on the inside and that person's 'go getter' attitude is the one I want in front of my kids modeling exceptional behavior.

....much of the conversation has been centered around the idea that standardized testing is bad and it only 'tests your ability to take tests.' While I'm in 100% agreement that they are destroying the educational system as we know it -- tests are very good things, if used as a diagnostic and benchmarking assessment (please do NOT confuse with the ridiculous 'benchmarks' we take for the PSSA, I'm not talking about the name, I'm talking about the use for tests.)

Tests measure a person's motivation, determination, endurance and character. We can't throw them away completely. (Still want my doctors and lawyers and teachers to take comprehensive exams) We have to find a way of using tests as a tool to educate instead of being THE product of education.

I also think politicians should have to take a very intense political science, economics & morality test to be qualified to run for office.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2011 12:43 pm

Excellent points!

Submitted by Genevieve (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:21 am

I think few if any of SAINT Thomas Aquinas's writings would support cheating. His understanding of what is a moral law or what is an immoral law was surely wedged in the Judeo-Christian framework of the Ten Commandments(I'm aware this is not his only influence. He was an amazing scholar, but he was also a saint). While you do not have to follow an immoral law, it does not become moral to lie, steal, murder etc.

80% of all educators in the country is an outrageous claim. If that's true, let's just consider Texas its own country. Our educator's certificate is on the line each year when we proctor the state exams. While the scores, pressure and accountability tied to them is a stressful topic, performing honestly, down to the letter, your proctoring duties is taken with grave seriousness by everyone I know. Low scores could result in losing your position. Cheating WILL result in the loss of your teaching certification and ruin of your career.

As a general response to what I have read so far in all of the comments, teachers, now is not the time for complaints or excuses. Now is the time for you to be the advocates for your students and advocates for public education. If you need to complain, do it to a teacher friend/husband/wife/mother/father/dog/etc. To the public we need to represent our profession as just that, a profession. We are educational professionals, many of us with graduate degrees, happily working for lower pay than our equivalently educated peers(remember, though, you chose it.) Part of the reason that public opinion about teachers is so terrible is because of the things that teachers unguardedly say in public. Watch what you say, because you represent us all. Never settle back on your years of experience because it is an ever-changing job requiring training to stay current, humility and fair self-evaluation just like any other industry. Keep your eye on the prize. You can become a better teacher each year and each day. It may look like the odds are stacked against us, the demands are ever increasing and unreasonable, the populations and attitudes of students are changing but you still have room to improve. You still have room to represent yourself and all of us professionally, ethically and respectfully. For Pete's sake, do not cheat!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:42 am

Stay in Church where you belong, Toto.

Submitted by Genevieve (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:18 am

My mention of his being a saint is not in any outrange that he be simply referred to as Thomas Aquinas. It is perfectly appropriate to refer to him without the title. I was highlighting the saint part to reference how ridiculous it would be to use Thomas Aquinas's scholarship to justify the act cheating. I would hope that any secular historian would see that is taking his scholarship out of context.

I do however see that if my post is far enough down that it does not appear to respond to the Anonymous(funny how many of you there are) person who cited Aquinas then accused 80% of American teachers of cheating, my post does read like a crazy person's.

I wish I had not just urban dictionary'd your happy little moniker. It really lost all of its charm.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 11:16 am

Aquinas, that charming devil, had people like you burned at the stake. The devil is in the details.. I used the Aquinas reference just be annoying.

Submitted by Genevieve (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:49 am

My mention of his being a saint is not in any outrange that he be simply referred to as Thomas Aquinas. It is perfectly appropriote to refer to him without the title. I was highlighting the saint part to reference how ridiculous it would be to use Thomas Aquinas's scholarship to justify the act cheating. I would hope that any secular historian would see that is taking his scholarship out of context.

I do however see that if my post is far enough down that it does not appear to respond to the Anonymous(funny how many of you there are) person who cited Aquinas then accused 80% of American teachers of cheating, my post does read like a crazy person's.

I wish I had not just urban dictionary'd your happy little moniker. It really lost all of its charm.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:24 pm

ha ha, you missed again, You named me Toto! :)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 1:18 pm

Ignore this Toto person, he or she is all over this site being obnoxious and annoying like a fly that won't go away. Your writing was excellent, including the saint reference.

Submitted by SEO (not verified) on December 31, 2011 4:31 am

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:04 pm

This was perfectly said. I am a a teacher also, we need to be progressive, we need to accept change, we need to learn from teachers who can teach these standards successfully, we need to buck up and help each other instead of encouraging each other to complain. Standards, AYP, this is our current situation so we need to make the best of it. The nation is watching, why are we frowned upon? well, it might just be our behavior.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 2:18 pm

Get over your pathetic self. Keep flogging yourself, bozo.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 9:27 pm

ok sweetpants

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:47 pm

Right on, Flyface.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:52 pm

Right on, Flyface.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:49 pm

Ignore the "Stay in Church" comment, this idiot is all over the place insulting people on this blog.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 2, 2012 11:34 am

Keep Pete out of it and we'll all do better.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 2, 2011 7:38 pm

I suspect you cheated your way through school, which would explain your pitiful comment. You and that line of thought is what has led to the failure rate of black Americans in the United States. You have disempowered them by lowering their sights and expectations. You have disenfranchised them from achieving the American dream. You have made them slaves all over again. Please, please, please, get out of their way. Let them learn the value of an education and hard work and rewards earned. You and your kind are the only ones who think they are incapable of this. STOP IT!!! Seriously, get out of their way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:17 pm

While I agree with your last paragraph, how did you make that leap from your first paragraph? they cheat BECAUSE of the reasons in your last paragraph, and do you really think anyone WANTS to cheat? Nobody is "subverting good teachers," when the system is rigged. The stakes are high because schools are beign taken over right and left by design. Wake up- it's not about cheating, it's about "reform," also known as privatizing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:04 pm

Of course, you and I are right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 5:18 pm

I completely agree. As a former teacher and parent I am disgusted by this teacher's behavior. By cheating, she helped maintain the status quo -- look -- our programs are working, high-stakes accountability is working! Did she ever think of what to say to the parent whose child is suddenly deemed "ineligible" for sped services since he scored "so high" on the PSSA? THAT is the real damage done by cheating. I am sorry that she did not learn before adulthood that life is not fair, but cheating does not help resolve the inequities that so many people go into teaching to address.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 5:36 pm

As I said before, it's a complex problem and experience is the best teacher. You may think differently if you were in that position.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 5:36 pm

As I said before, it's a complex problem and experience is the best teacher. You may think differently if you were in that position.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 2, 2012 9:04 am

I do however see that if my post is far enough down that it does not appear to respond to the Anonymous(funny how many of you there are) person who cited Aquinas then accused 80% of American teachers of cheating, my post does read like a crazy person's.
Carle Place Kickboxing

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:20 am

SPED services? Thats a laugh. A half hour of pullout daily - mostly spent walking back and forth (slowly!!!) to the resource room?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 8:44 am

You are too kind.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 12:09 am

I have to agree. The cheating is hurting everyone. I am a teacher working with a grade-level team of teachers who are all cheating -- except me. Guess who appears to be a poor teacher? And do you think the administration wants to hear from me, the bearer or bad news? 'Fraid not. It's much easier to lay blame at my door. In addition to scenarios like this, cheating is causing the whole NCLB debacle to appear to be a success, thus prolonging its eventual much-needed collapse. Finally, we have children who don't truly understand that they didn't earn the scores they received, or that cheating is wrong. This creates in them a false sense of self-esteem and a warped moral code. After all, if the teacher cheats, it couldn't be that bad. Right?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 7:12 am

The students I tested this year dropped twenty points from their last year's scores. I didn't cheat, and the numbers must indicate that the grade teachers of last year did???? I am a 'well-qualified' teacher and wonder what my principal must think of my team of teachers since my whole grade's scores dropped. Could it be hormones? no relevence or interest in the subject matter? continued lack of parental input? more horrid TV shows and movies allowing decay of any moral development? Could it be me?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 8:13 am

If a tree falls in the woods, it's still your fault. Everything is always the teacher's fault not all the OBVIOUS enormous environmental issues or any of the things you described. In this hysteria of testing frenzy, nothing surprises me. Your Principal may have already jumped out a window. Cheating is almost impossible to prove since teachers generally have the least access to them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 7:00 am

You said it all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 10:22 am

when are people going to realize that not all kids are alike????
not all kids learn at the same level !!!!!
get rid of no child left behind and let them learn at their own speed..
these test are not helping them just stresses them out

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 11:41 am

What you are suggesting is to do away with grade levels or expectations at grade levels. I don't know if that is realistic. We have expectations at grade levels, otherwise a child does not have to take any responsiblity for their learning, they could just sit back and not do a thing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 12:59 pm

you dont give kids enough credit.. i had 6 kids n they each learned at different speed..teacher need to show kids they care even if parents dont. a little extra attention goes a long way.i worked in the school system for 14 years not as a teacher.just a 'hi how is it going' helps instead of rushing to get away from them goes a long way

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:29 pm

I agree with you but it's not going to help on the PSSA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:30 pm

PSSA NEEDS TO GO AWAY GET FEDERAL GOVERNMEMT OUT OF SCHOOLS.HOW CAN THEY KNOW WHAT IS NEEDED IN EVERY SCHOOL IN THIS COUNTRY.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:36 pm

Well, because we are a democracy and people come together on committees to decide what is best for our children. Would you rather teachers make up their own minds? That is called dictatorship and kills the consistancy of education. There has to be an agreed upon set of "standards" or it is up to each individual to decide.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:05 pm

God, are you dumb!! OK, Toto--Go back to Kansas.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:58 pm

Wow, stunning logical argument....You are dumb? Is this how you teach children? Why don't you argue the points instead of namecalling.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:42 pm

Go from me, dummy !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 4:24 pm

no problem moron.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 9:31 pm

Thanks, Sweetpants.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 10:05 pm

Tell your mom to quit letting you play with the computer, I think it is nappy time for you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 11:22 pm

OK Sweetpants.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 11:22 pm

ni night.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:18 pm

Just curious, what does "Ok Toto, go back to Kansas" mean, and how exactly does it relate to the previous statement?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:38 pm

Go from me, Dummy 2.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:54 pm

I agree.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:32 pm

I agree with you but it's not going to help on the PSSA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:33 pm

I agree with you but it's not going to help on the PSSA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 12:55 pm

Bingo but that wouldn't be politically correct thinking.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:36 pm

"The truth is 80%---90% of the kids we teach would have serious IEPs in almost all suburban School Districts--You know it, I know it and The American People know it to quote Lincoln."

--- Yes, 80% or more of our black and latino students would qualify for an IEP in a suburban school - and get the help they need - in a logical world. But the cries of 'racism' would be so loud that we would go back to pretending that Shaniqua and Pablo are doing just fine, if only they had a young teacher 'who looks like them.'

The quick fixes, the charades, the lies. We know what kind of help our minority students need, and we want to provide it, but the politics won't let us.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 10:33 pm

In your own tortured, racist, and enraged way, you make a good point, in a sorta.kinda, roundabout way and likely by accident. Racism is insidious and destructive.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 6:31 am

I'm an American Indian teacher who taught at a Tribal School for 25 years. Our student population: 100% American Indian. The writer above is correct in that many minority students are NOT getting the extra academic help they need, and whether or not the student gets the help depends on where they go to school. Before you call me racist, let me explain.

Where I taught, a student could transfer from a “public” school with a file stating he had been receiving special ed services and our school determines he does not qualify for special ed. OR one of our students who is not receiving special ed services moves off the reservation. A few weeks go by and the new school calls to let us know that they didn’t receive all of the records for their new transfer student—that her special ed file was missing. Before you call the white school a racist institution, let me explain.

The school assumes the student requires services because it is that obvious that the poor kid needs help! Not because they are racist. NO school wants to place a student in special education—you should see the paper work involved!! And, students requiring special education cost a lot more to educate. Everyone thinks the school wants to place the student just to get the “extra” money! But, that money is used to provide educational services to that student. It pays for extra teachers, aides and specialized equipment. Ok, so I’ve explained that the white suburban schools are not racists when they place minorities in special ed.

What, then explains why the tribal school wasn’t servicing the students who obviously needed help? I was told by a Special Ed Coordinator that we can’t go over the state norm for percentage of student’s needing services. On the average, 20% of all American Indians in public schools in our state are receiving special education services; therefore, the federal government who funds us expects nothing different. [Even though he admitted close to 30% needed services]. The system is crazy. I asked him what if on average 1% of all students in public schools were hearing impaired; but because of a measles outbreak several years earlier we now have 5% of our students hearing impaired. Would we get funding for all the students? He had no answer for me.

To make matters worse, several years later the feds changed the formula for funding special education. Nationally, after the formula change, special ed services at all tribal school decreased to about 14%--NOT because all of a sudden our students didn’t need services anymore—but because the schools didn’t have the funding to pay for those services!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 7:02 am

You said it better than I ever could---great post.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 3:53 pm

Well said!!!!

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 7:09 am

"Racism is alive and has many appendages. These kids struggle with basics that most white children don't and it not their fault but it is what it is. Time will slowly heal this problem nothing else."
Time will not heal this. Only sound social and educational policies would. Our kids get discriminated against year after year, in so many ways, not only because of their race, but also because of their social status. Nothing will change until we get together with the parents and the rest of the working people and stand up to the elites who cheat us out of our money, education and decent standard of living.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 8:14 am

I said the same thing but better, Calm down--you're preaching to the choir. You are WRONG though about social change and thinking. That won't happen if it hasn't happened in 425 years. When people of color begin to outnumber the white population and VOTE en mass, the politicians will start to care for their own hide will be at stake. All the marches and laws in the world haven't helped so don't expect them to. Politicians care about VOTES--cold but true. Time is the real answer and it won't be too far off. I'm a white person but I can see what you see though not feel what you feel nearly so deeply as you.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 10:35 am

Great knowledge of history. New Deal just happened, as did racial desegregation.
And the elites totally don't know how to brainwash people into voting against their own interests.
BTW, I am very calm. I don't write in caps, which is equal to screaming.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:33 pm

Again, I think we're on the same page. Google David Icke.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:57 pm

I did. He is a nut.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:56 pm

Read some of his work then decide. Be careful, you may be wrong about him. Remember, it's not what you know but what you think you know that's just not so that gets you into trouble.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:04 pm

Do you really believe that when white people are a shrinking minority of the overall population - and literally disappearing from large swaths of the land - and when blacks and latinos far outnumber us, that the schools are going to improve - simply because politicos fear for their jobs?

How can the schools improve when the demographic swing occurs, especially since the minority (majority) communities are not producing the teachers that will be needed when this land has to support 600 million + people, and most of them are living in abject poverty similar to Latin America or Africa?

Los Angeles and Detroit are mirror images of what will really occur here - wishful thinking and sloganeering about a 'bright' future not withstanding. We are overpopulating, frittering away our economy in the name of 'globalism' and putting on extra-large rose-colored glasses.

When your grandchildren (who will live in poverty or in gated communities in fear for their lives) will see pictures of America before the year 2000 - of happy, educated, prosperous people and clean towns and public lands - and they ask you, "What happened?" What are we supposed to tell them? "Diversity, Multiculturalism and Social Justice"?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:04 pm

Genius---I only read your first paragraph. That's all I could take. MY POINT was that people of color will get a fair shake when the politicians respect them as VOTERS. Period.

Submitted by sharon (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:22 pm

I agree they need to get out and vote

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 2:19 pm

People who don't vote are always going to be marginalized---ALWAYS !!

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 30, 2011 3:16 pm

How about those who vote and still are marginalized? 99.9% of the time you vote, you have a choice between two corporate candidates, both bent on helping the rich and hurting the poor and middle class. The difference is only that Ds would do it slowly and apply anesthetics when they cut your legs off.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 9:49 pm

Good Point.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 8:52 am

By the way, Charter Schools are the newest way, our kids are being cheated. Rich people--mostly of course white, make money off the backs of mostly black kids in the inner city under the PRETEXT of giving the parents a choice. What a croc?? Is there anybody out there still delusional enough to believe charter claims and "Scores??" Please !! Charters are the trendiest way for yuppies to make easy money without providing a blessed thing to the kids. Just con artistry with a touch of Elmer Gantry thrown into the mix and each charter has a huckster from the community screaming their lies to the parents and being paid to do so. See Dwight Evans for reference, exhibit A.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 9:35 am

I totally agree about charter schools, and your philosohophy, Very well said.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 9:55 am

Thank You.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 9:33 am

How about later in life when the kids are adults and trying to get into college, or getting jobs? Should they be held to a lower standard then, or should everyone around them still cheat for them? Inner city kids are held to the same standards as their suburban counterparts because that's how it's going to be in the real world when they graduate.

I'm very worried about your moral standpoint as well. How is making these kids think they're better then they are a good thing? It's just setting them up for a reality check, and could make their self-esteem lower than if they had gotten the grade they deserved in the first place!

Alright, let's not blame the teachers for cheating. Never mind that if a student was caught cheating on one of these tests, they would be in huge trouble. Who would you like to blame? The administration? Oh, but they were only protecting their jobs! Just like the teachers! How about the politicians who passed No Child Left Behind? Oh, but they were only doing what they thought was right, and what they were elected to do! You can string this out until it's the fault of the entire nation. Someone has to take responsibility. Those teachers are the ones who fell down in their moral standards. They (and the administration who overlooked the cheating) should be blamed, and fired.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 12:32 pm

In your tortured, obscure, accidental way, you stumbled onto a good point or two. That's why it's a complicated issue. Hopefully, this scandal will bring about testing changes and enlightened thought, something you need to look into.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:25 am

How about you stop insulting me and start acting like an adult? Say what you disagree with and grow up. We're talking opinions here, not personal attacks.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:59 am

Sweetie Pie.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:43 pm

Don't worry about this moron below who called you sweetie pie, he is all over this place insulting people.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:45 am

How about you stop insulting me and start acting like an adult? Tell me what you disagree with and grow up. We're here to talk opinions, not personal attacks.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 10:38 am

I isn't insultin you, you is.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 11:53 am

*computer equivalent of a shrug* It didn't post it the first time around. I tried again. Never claimed to know everything about computers, or about anything really.

If you'd like to start talking about the actual issue here, fine, I'll join in. If you just want to keep showing everyone how much of a git you are, then keep telling me how stupid I am.

Nice grammar, by the way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 12:28 pm

My grammer be good as it gits, my sista !!. When you buy the nose, you buy the whole face--a South Philly expression. I knows the King's English and I'll learn you good too yo.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2011 1:32 pm

you are like a flea that won't go away yo.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:42 pm

Well, there's one of the problems right there: a parasol is NOT an umbrella; however, there are functional and structural similarities.

Please don't help students with standardized tests. Just encourage them to do their best and discuss it afterwards.

Sincerely,

A fellow teacher...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:05 pm

No you're not. If you are a teacher, then you would know better than to fully define "Parasol" during a standardized test.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:12 pm

Definition of a parasol. Do you understand now why the students needed assistance?
www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parasol
par·a·sol
   [par-uh-sawl, -sol] Show IPA
–noun
a lightweight umbrella used, especially by women, as a sunshade.

Submitted by Williams (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:45 pm

Maybe the teacher should have said a "fancy umbrella". If an inner city child saw a women walking down the street with a parasol, he would say there goes a lady with an umbrella. Because thats what it is. Do I agree with cheatng, no. Can I understand why she would go there, yes. As a child I was always good at taking standerdized tests, my children as well. Most of the time the test had nothing todo with what I was being taught in school, lets just say I figured out what they wanted and gave it to them. Oh yeah, I was that inner city child.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:59 pm

I believe the question went something like this, as I have seen 1O years of this testing.
1. The lady put the parasol, over her head, to prevent the rain from soaking her.

What does parasol mean?
a. cloud
b. umbrella
c. gloves
d. hairspray

Do people not see the value of reading and using context clues to solve? It is asking children to use critical thinking skills and process of elimination, If we are not asking students to THINK about their reading, what is the point. I think these kinds of questions are very helpful, and when my ESL students learn to think like this, they say that language becomes much easier to understand.

Submitted by p.h. (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:29 pm

Sorry, I just don't believe this story. And do not pull me into this. It doesn't happen in my school, so don't say it is rampant and everybody cheats.

Submitted by another anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 8:47 pm

I believe this story. Similar cheating was widespread (though not in every classroom) at my K-8 school, with the tacit approval of administrators. Many of my colleagues from other Philadelphia schools have told me about cheating at their sites.

Submitted by David (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:59 pm

That's a little short sighted. It's like saying drug use isn't rampant because I don't see it happen. Or alcolism doesn't really happen that much because I don't know any alcoholics.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:50 pm

If the stakes weren't so ridiculously high with the end game of having your school dismantled, nobody would feel compelled to cheat, just to teach. My generation never felt such instability in the Philly school system., and I have good memories not the constant anxiety that prevails today.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:18 pm

@ ph Who is pulling you into anything? It happens, many people know what happens, but the problem is that the stakes are too high. It is not on any one teacher, school ,or principal, For a student to ask if his school will be here next year ,or which teacher has been disciplined is outrageous and sad. Is that a learninig environment, or a culture of fear?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 6:40 pm

ph echos my thoughts exactly...this is being portrayed as common place and it's not. Cheating is never acceptable behavior for an adult to pass on to a student. Stories like this only make Philly teachers look that much worse. The Cheater isn't doing them any favors with her 'confession'.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:55 pm

Nobody has said that cheating is acceptable, but here is the deal: When the principal approaches you and tells you to change the answers, well it's more common than you think. In my opinion it's a shame that THEY feel they have to do that to keep their schools intact. You are not taking the high road by denying that this exists, that's escapism, however I don't think that these cheating events should take center stage when we have a district in ruins that needs our attention.

Submitted by Lynne (not verified) on July 28, 2011 4:49 pm

What this teacher did may technically be considered cheating, because it subverted the rules, but it isn't cheating in the context of the Atlanta Public Schools scandal.

It isn't wrong to help students navigate a test. Indeed, students with IEPs get those extra accommodations all the time. What is WRONG is to help a student so much that an incorrect picture of his skills is created. The student is passed on year after year and we're all shocked when he's a high school grad with no discernable skills. There is a reason unemployment is extremely high, and always has been, in poor and minority communities. We think we can take the pressure off them, but mainly off of ourselves, by giving them the answers or doing social promotion.
Telling a student the definition of a word helps them solve the rest of the puzzle. Giving them the answer doesn't. And while you may have helped a student get higher test scores, you're not around 10 years later when they can't get a job because of weak reading and analytical skills.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:09 pm

As a teacher within the SDP, it is a disgrace that you cheated. You should be fired for trying to fudge the numbers. You are no different that the superintendent. Your excuses are far worse than the ones my students use. Shame on you.

Submitted by Enlightened Teacher (not verified) on July 28, 2011 6:08 pm

I could not agree with you more. What this teacher did is wrong, and consistent with law and regulation, he/she should be dismissed from employment with the District and his/her certification should be revoked. Giving the students improper assistance distorts their true abilities, and while the school may make AYP, the students are the one who loses out in the end! As you indicated, this individual is not different than the Superintendent and/or other administrators who have perpetrated academic fraud such as this. While I do have some philosophical differences with the SDP Administration, it goes up my ass sideways how the pots love to call the kettles black! Tell me something, those of you have alleged that individuals in the Superintendent's Cabinet have cheated and called for their dismissal, what will you call for with this teacher...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:51 pm

Oh really? Great- jump right on the" fire the bums" bandwagon, and make it easier to acquire young, new, CHEAP, talent that hasn't a clue about what's going on. That btw is exactly what the district wants.You sound more like a plant (troll) than an actual SDP teacher.

Submitted by Enlightened Teacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:10 am

Yes, we do need to "fire the bums!" This is why the District is in shambles now... because too many of the people that have been here for too long, are to comfortable and have this sickening sense of entitlement whereas they think because they are tenured, they are untouchable! Please spare me with the old teachers vs. new teachers bullshit...it's getting a little played out. Not all teachers who have been in the District forever and a day are there because they are any good nor do all of them need to stay. At the same time, no one is saying to just "give" anything to the new teachers either... they have to earn their stripes. But for you to flat out insinuate that they do not deserve a chance is wrong...everyone has to start somewhere...

And you must be the crackbaby that loves to go around calling people trolls. Well I can call names too...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 9:36 am

Yes everyone has to start somewhere, so get in line and wait for your entry level position. You want this to be like the private sector? Well there it is.

Signed,
crackbaby (also known as SDP employee in good standing)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 11:46 am

The minute you curse you lose all credibility. Be the professional that you claim to be.

Submitted by Shante (not verified) on July 29, 2011 11:38 am

I disagree. Sometimes strong language is needed to make a point.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 3:57 pm

You can use strong language without getting ghetto. It is not becoming of a so called professional.

Submitted by Bombcats Hack (not verified) on January 19, 2014 8:13 am
Actually no matter if someone doesn't be aware of afterward its up to other users that they will help, so here it occurs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 10:12 pm

I agree with you! Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, just like not everyone is cut out to be a doctor. If a doctor isn't doing his job, do we feel sorry for him and reconsider surgery techniques? No! Teaching is a choice, education is a right!

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on July 28, 2011 11:19 pm

Dear & noble Anonymous & Enlightened,

It's easy to judge behind the unknown facade of your computer screen. This person had the decency and courage to acknowledge her faults and you chastise her and make her feel like, "obviously, I shouldn't have said anything at all because I'm now attacked." A thousand people read that and 999 of them will continue to do the WRONG thing because the two of YOU have conditioned them to do so.

People are trying to speak up. They are trying to make it right. They are trying to show their vulnerability and weakness and you lash out with a cut-and-dry militant bottom line. She is a human seeking redemption and you are an anonymous prosecutor, safe behind a hidden identity.

Is that what you do to your students? Is that what you do to your friends? Is that what you do to your superiors? Yes, we judge Dr. Ackerman -- a little too heavyhandedly after so long. But ask yourself this: when did you ever get a 'mea culpa' from Ackerman? When did she try to reason out, "yes this happened but it was because I felt pressured by this?" Never.

You want someone to judge? You judge me. I'll tell you everything I did and I'll give you my name.

You first. My email is InspiredApple@yahoo.com I'd love to hear from Perfection. I'll never have near the conviction, morality nor ability to teach the way that you two do and I'm sure I'm unfit to teach as well. I'd love for you to share your wisdom with me and teach me something. I've yet to learn a thing from either of you besides how to perpetuate cheating through your conditioned picksniffian responses.

Submitted by Enlightened Teacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:46 am

With all due respect, if I were you, I would learn to watch my mouth! First and foremost, I did not "condition" anyone to do anything. All of us have freewill and we do as we want. Cheaters will continue to cheat because they make a choice to and will remain silent because they know the consequences. With that being said, the malarkey that you are coming at me with, save it for someone else!

I simply stated the obvious. If this person had a role in the cheating, they need to be disciplined appropriately. Since everyone on here preaches about what is "right" and "wrong," then under the laws and regulations we are held to as educators, this action would be punishable by the manner in which I have specified: termination and revocation of certification. What are you, as a teacher, teaching a child by helping them cheat? What happens when they get to college and do it??? The fact that my English teacher helped me do it on the PSSA in high school and now I felt compelled to do it now, will not be an acceptable answer.

I would have more sympathy for this person if she were forced to do it by the principal or another administrator, as teachers in the High School Academic Division have asserted the Assistant Superintendent has pressured them to do. Then I would be after the administrator, not the teacher who made a decision on her own free will to engage in this type of inappropriate behavior.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 8:10 am

Gotta love these self-righteous types. "Right" is right and "wrong" is wrong, no gray whatsoever.

Submitted by Enlightened Teacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 8:42 am

Indeed! Like I said, I'm sick of this old vs. new... this traditional vs. Promise Academy... the White vs. Black... all of these little cliques. It's sickening. We, as educators, are here to do a job: TEACH! Either shit or get off the pot!!! We need to be working together, not fighting each other. When we start to do that, things will get much, much better.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 10:17 am

But you are OK with "good" teacher vs "bad". And it's up to you to decide who is "good" and who is "bad".
I am actually fine with the "us" vs "them" mentality. We just have to pick "them" correctly. "Them" are the ones who deprive our children of the right to good education by not providing enough resources and by shifting the scarce money into the pockets of testing companies and charter providers. "They" make the teachers face tough moral choices, and "they" should be fought, not the teachers, who make "wrong" choice out of two wrong choices they face.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 11:55 am

TEACHING is really what good teachers want to do, now ask yosurself who put all these other things into play and you'll get a sense of the political wranglings that have been PUT upon educators.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:58 pm

Lets' put this into some realistic perspective. Finsh the sentence: teachers are feeling undue pressure because _____________. IF your answer is that they are immoral cheaters who should be fired, you fail.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 1:21 pm

Ms. Apple, after reading your response, it seems like you did a little cheating on the PSSA in your classroom. "I'll tell you everything I did and I'll give you my name." I don't need all that information but the SDP would love to know so why don't you inform them. Oh, you must be hiding behind the facade of your computer screen. "People are trying to show their vulnerability and weekness." Be professional, this isn't a therapy session. You are failing the kids when you encourage them to cheat and I hope my kids never end up in your classroom.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on July 29, 2011 1:56 pm

::sigh:: "weakness," not "weekness," Anonymous.

Inspired Apple did not say she/he had cheated. Although she may want to be careful who she shares her real name with because the district is probably interested in ferreting out any posters on this board who have criticized the administration in any way.

I think the teacher in this article is a prime example of the road to you-know-where being paved with good intentions, myself - the PSSA is not the appropriate venue for civil disobedience of this sort or a "learning experience." And the solution to this sort of cheating is to have teachers proctor tests at schools other than their own during testing week. It would take more organizational skills than the district has shown to date, but it could be done. It would take a lot of pressure off and remove the seeds of doubt from the equation.

Submitted by p.h. (not verified) on July 30, 2011 10:07 am

YES!- couldn't agree more!

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on July 30, 2011 9:09 pm

Hahaha,

Wow! Did I miss a lot the last couple of days. No, I did not cheat, coach nor change answers. (This can be proven through my school's "abysmal" test scores...) It's laughable that someone can assume anything about you on the site, especially when they're amped up and just firing bullets. I find it sad that they could jump to conclusions when I offered them something real instead trying to diffuse a bullying war on the teacher that stepped forward to try to fix the problems in our system.

But because we didn't cheat, our school was punished with an administration with the sole purpose of 'raising test scores' and a curriculum/lesson plan/boot camp that was PSSA PSSA PSSA all year round. Our educational programs suffered greatly this year. When you see that -- it frustrates you.

Had we cheated by changing test answers, the kids wouldn't have known (we all agree they could give two hoots about the tests and by their 11th grade year "they're done" & the scores mean nothing for magnet schools, no one looks at the 11th grade tests to place them anywhere -- I do realize this is VERY different from the pups, but this woman taught at the high school level) and our curriculum wouldn't have been watered down to 24/7 computer based "catch-up" and we could actually teach. I would have explained this, with my name attached to it, to any person that thinks that that mentality warrants an automatic termination and "unfit to teach kids."

The process isn't that simple. Still waiting for that email that's never going to come from the thin air that likes to push around a bunch of hot air but not put their reputation on the line behind their comments. Your solution is an incredibly valid one. It would virtually eliminate cheating if not only the proctors were unknown, but the kids were driven off-site to take the PSSA (the College Board that runs the SAT KNOWS how to eliminate cheating, which is why the integrity of their testing methods is rarely questioned and shows true skills.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 10:15 am

Sorry, but you do not sound like a teacher within the SDP, unless you were just hired within the last year.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:04 pm

So let me see if I have this right - the way to make sure kids can compete is to drill them into submission, cheat to make sure they look good, then expect them to creatively and analytically out-think their contemporaries around the world. and expect daily revelations of cheating scandals tied to performance incentives

Submitted by Lynne (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:47 pm

why does a rigorous education have to become the equivlent drilling? Aren't we creative enough to understanding teaching is a blend. I learned my fractions and multiplication tables by having them drilled into my head. I learned my love of literature and poems that don't rhyme by sitting on the couch and reading. Different lessons require different kinds of instruction.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on July 28, 2011 6:46 pm

"Rigor" is not spending day after day doing test prep. Schools have become less-creative places as a result of the overemphasis on testing. Lynne - you must have had people in your life who cared about you and created the conditions where you could just sit and read - not every kid has that benefit. The mission of schools has been perverted into the production of good test scores instead of well-rounded students.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 11:52 am

the way to make sure kids can compete is to drill them into submission, cheat to make sure they look good, then expect them to creatively and analytically out-think their contemporaries around the world>>

Uh excuse me, but to whom are you speaking? Apparently to nobody on this site.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on July 29, 2011 2:54 pm

Right you are, anonymous - I was speaking to you...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 2:31 pm

Apparently NOT, as I said I was done.

Submitted by I Teach in Philly (not verified) on July 29, 2011 1:31 pm

Good comment, Phantom! If my kids hated English class before all the test-taking drills started, they surely hated it *after* the four months of relentless, mind-numbing exercises we were forced to put them through.

How is it possible to expect our students to compete in college and on the job when we take away 4 months of the school year just for test-taking "skills"? Someone tell me what kind of job our kids can get by filling in the bubbles on an answer sheet.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:05 pm

So let me see if I have this right - the way to make sure kids can compete is to drill them into submission, cheat to make sure they look good, then expect them to creatively and analytically out-think their contemporaries around the world. and expect daily revelations of cheating scandals tied to performance incentives

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:58 pm

Thank you, teacher X, for sharing your story. I'm in a K-8 school where I have encouraged students to do their best with the admonition that it is a determination for final report card grades, whether a magnet school would chose them, and what reading teacher they would have next year. By the time they reach 5th or 6th grade, they see the lie. Because students are pushed ahead to the next grades with D's on the reading report card (indicating 2 years below grade appropriate reading level) and D's on their math grade (which indicates below basic understanding of foundational mathematics) I am forced to start where they are and teach what the children should already know. So, there is never enough time in the day or week to cover all the curricula/material tested. So science and social studies is glazed over and then when tested on Benchmarks the kids fail. I've also told kids the benchmark tests are recorded in my gradebook, helping to determine subject grades.
The atmosphere created by high stakes testing is stifling and causes everyone to be stressed. It's not a good idea.

Submitted by Lynne (not verified) on July 28, 2011 6:52 pm

This is why charter schools and private schools are often the best places to address these problems. You say there is never enough time in the day to address all of the things kids are test on, particularly for kids two grade levels behind.

Why are you stuck on the traditional time in the day? Why aren't these kids receiving after school tutoring, Saturday school and some of the other innovative ideas to come out of charters? Why are they being passed on to the next grade when they haven't mastered the previous one? Why is it so hard to accommodate a student who may need two years to master 4th grade? Not everyone can do it in one year.
I understand your angst but you sound resigned to the status quo. The system needs teachers willing to shake up the system.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 8:54 pm

Charters cheat as well and they have even more incentive to look good

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 10:02 pm

Aaahh . . . there it is. It always comes back to the charters. They just stink.

Submitted by Lynne (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:50 pm

now that's a well-informed and thoughtful comment! Here's what I think you meant to say: Research from Stanford Univ. among other institutions who've done extensive studies of charters show results to be mixed. Most charters do no worse or better than public schools. One out of five perform better than publics (and that could be from cherrypicking students to pvt $ to just being operated better.)

Submitted by Anonymous teacher (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:51 pm

@Lynne,

At my high school, our arms are twisted until we pass the students on. If we don't, the grades are changed in the system by administrators. This is just FYI.

Submitted by Lynne (not verified) on July 29, 2011 4:41 pm

I understand the bind this puts teachers in. And I'm not saying teachers are the problem here, much more complex than that.

But I am saying that this is a civil rights issue and if it were something more black and white like segregation I believe teachers would find a way to rise up en mass. Cheating and social promotion is more nebulous, but I hate that we're all so shocked, shocked, when these kids graduate reading way below grade level and join America's struggling underclass.

Do you believe yourself when you say "those kids" just couldn't do more rigorous work and that you did them a favor by not forcing them to?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:59 pm

Who are "those kids?" Who defines what's rigorous? I will tell you this...which is common sense. If you want to make a mass production of KODAK cameras, then you definitely will not achieve the same result using POLAROID parts. This is ultimately what NCLB is requiring of the students, and frankly it does not make "good common sense."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 10:43 am

Really? Well then why haven't you reported this????? Unbelievable.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 12:08 pm

because the feradal pay the teacher cheat on the test pay them bonus their students get good this the solution.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:34 pm

WHAT???

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 1:45 pm

yeah, what???? dibblesquabblebabblebooblewho?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 3:06 pm

Are you going to find the money to make this possible? I firmly believe children who are not on grade level should not be "passed on" to the next grade's teachers to fix, but you need to face some realities. Many children do not have the luxuries to afford tutoring, or even the luxuries to attend free after-school tutoring due to time/transportation constraints from their parents who must work 82 jobs to make it in this economy.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:21 pm

What a sad story! The teacher was foolish and behaved in a way that (perhaps inadvertently) encouraged cynicism to thrive. When we stand in front of a classroom, we are role models, and our honesty counts. Circumventing the system through cheating reinforces messages that we need to counteract. Does anyone really expect kids to respect themselves on the basis of lies? I understand the pall that these tests cast upon us as teachers, but we've got to do better than this.

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on July 28, 2011 11:32 pm

The thing is, we say things like, "does anyone really expect the kids to respect themselves on the basis of lies?" We assume one thing or another has hurt the kids. What I would find very interesting is asking her kids WHAT THEY THINK OF THEIR TEACHER?

Do they remember the time she coached them through an answer?
Did it hurt them in the long run and ingrain this diluted sense of morality in their heads where they feel cheated, wronged and in turn will wrong The System and The Man themselves because they had this teacher that just, jaded the entire world for them and taught them cheating is the answer?

My guess is no. Again, I'm only guessing -- but I'd bet money on it that they BARELY REMEMBER THE DAY NOW, 3 months later. Fewer will remember a single passage, let alone her exact movements and how 'wrong' they were. What they will remember were the times she made them laugh, the times she made them think and the times she made them feel. The dullness of a test will succumb to the power of instruction.

Don't take my word for it. Someone ask the kids and stop speaking on behalf of them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:26 pm

i am not surprised. the reality of this is that the children are tested out. and if ur lively hood depends on this child passing i am pretty sure many of us have used some form of cheating to help these children. if u have a child that is in the 11th grade but on a 5th grade reading level and u give him an 11th grade test u kno from the door that more than likely he will fail this test.

if only, IF ONLY they would simply allow us to teach, i bet any amount of money that the children could pass.

when i was younger we took the C.A.T. test and the TELS test in catholic school. i dont remember there being so much emphasis put on this test. what i do remember my teacher saying is do ur best there will be things on here that u kno and things that u dont kno but just try to answer the questions to the best of ur ability.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:49 pm

I have taught at 4 schools in the SDP and this happened at EVERY one of them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:21 pm

It doesn't happen at my school.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on July 28, 2011 5:26 pm

Nor mine.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2011 9:01 pm

Sigh- it doesn't MATTER if it didn't happen at your school, that's fine but it's tunnel vision. Most people who say "my school' in a proprietary manner have probably taught at only one school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:38 pm

It happens at every school, most times probably not on purpose. You work one on one with students for 174 days a year and suddenly you're expected to not interact with them in any way for the entire testing period? When a student asks does this word mean "x" and you say "what do you think it means? What did we say about prefixes last week?" technically that's cheating. You're suddenly supposed to say "I can't help you." We can't continue to push creative activities, student-to-student discourse, global thinking, etc... while at the same time telling students and schools they are failures if 100% of their students (which is the expectation by 2014) don't pass an arbitrary multiple choice test.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 12:49 pm

APPLAUSE!!! And let me add, what message does it send when children go a whole year, then we provide expensive gifts for those who just SHOW UP for testing? Bicycles, computer games, on and on, just for showing up, and you thnk kids aren't freaked out by this process?

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on July 29, 2011 1:19 pm

Exceptional point. We should not be bribing students to take tests (or behave or work hard).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 1:11 pm

Yes, and this is for showing up to take the tests, not the actual achievement results. I saw kids getting gifts who'd been in in house suspension for who knows how long. You write them up for fighting ,and they get a fancy gift, and turn around and laugh at you. And with that I'm just about finished with this discussion.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 8:43 pm

I was admonished by my principal because I had no behavior award chart system. I really object to bribing kids to behave, use their manners, conduct themselves with decorum, and to complete homework and class assignments. Stickers on excellent work is as far as I'm willing to go. We had to post the testing results on a "data wall" supposedly to encourage kids to bring up their personal scores on Benchmarks and other high-stakes testing by comparing themselves to the last set of scores. No names were ever posted, just results. This time-consuming exercise changed nothing in my K-8 school....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2011 9:32 pm

Bullying and humiliation are tactics that now permeate the SDP.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2011 9:33 pm

We are required to do the same except the students' names are on the chart. We would get written up if the scores were not posted within days of the results.

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