Comments about ‘In our opinion: Cheating scandals’

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Published: Thursday, April 4 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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squirt
Taylorsville, ut

First of all, I do NOT condone cheating by any educator. However, the DN has, once again, missed an opportunity to point out an additional critical issue. The emphasis on standardized tests to measure a teacher's performance, determine the pay of that educator, and to close schools is at the heart of the problem.

Standardized tests were designed to measure a student's learning levels at one moment in time. They were NEVER designed for evaluating teachers or their instruction or the efficacy of a school.

The school reformers have sent the public education system down a road with the goal of failure. It is time to give education back to the professionals and stop placating for-profit companies whose only goal is to get a piece of the education money pie.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

If this many teachers from this many schools (and Atlanta isn't the only city in the only state where this has happened) feel they need to do this, there must be something wrong with the plan. The loss of integrity does look disturbing but teachers need to feed their families like anybody else. It's called self preservation. Since teachers will blamed for test scores and in some cases things way beyond their control in a dysfunctional plan as a whole, I think the pressure was immense. We need to back away from standardized testing. In a similar story in Texas (similar because it's about standardized testing), we have elementary students stressed out and not sleeping because of the stress of these tests. Since teachers and principals are pressured, they have passed this along to the students. Plus real learning needs to go on.

A real honest and hard look at NCLB and standardized testing needs to take place. Is it bringing about the positive changes in education people want? Or is it making things worse including leaving teachers pressured to either cheat like they did in Atlanta or stress out the test takers themselves to do well.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

One things teachers can teach, by their own example and attitude, is honesty, as well as a moral life and attitude generally.

They may not express such things or be permitted to (heaven help us) but the attitudes and practices of teachers are observed by students and wield their influence on developing minds and character. It's a crying shame that apparently so many teachers and administrators are so dishonest in their practices and attitudes. Let's not find excuses for the inexcusable.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Gildas, what you said was eloquently stated. However, it still doesn't fix the other problem(s). Students shouldn't be stressed out about these worthless tests which are killing creativity and critical thinking in our schools. When we got a letter from our child's principal about the importance of these tests and some do's and don'ts as they prepare for the big event, things have crossed the line. My second grade student with special needs doesn't need this garbage. It NEEDS to stop. Teachers that cheat are sending a bad message, a horrible message. But at the same time I would also love to address the other issue of whether these standardized tests are helping our education or creating an environment where teachers choose to cheat (regrettably) or where administrators, teachers and children feel inordinate and unhealthy pressure. And yes, some teachers and principals and superintendents will make horrible ethical decisions when faced with their own self-preservation, as would many people in whatever field of work.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

Lets review how and why this happened.

First, you have government programs that offer money to schools if they can show an improvement. Next, you follow that up with standardized testing. What do you expect to happen when you have teachers who want to keep their jobs and get more money for showing improvement?

red state pride
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Here's the problem in these cheating cases: "educators" who are more interested in maintaining their salaries and benefits than actually educating their students. How is a student or their parents supposed to know they are deficient if the teachers are doctoring their tests?
I agree that NCLB was probably bad policy but I understand the point of it which is to show the Federal Government some results for the money they are pouring into K12 education.
I'm not one to criticize without offering a solution. The Federal Government should have no involvement with education: k12, preschool, or higher ed. It's completely unconstitutional and we've seen the results of having a huge Federal bureaucracy with limitless responsibilities none of which it performs well to include national defense.
Nothing solves problems as effectively as free markets which is why States need to implement school choice. Obviously Utahns didn't want that when given the choice but I don't see how any sane person can compare the money we spend on k12 and the results we get to other countries and not see that we need a different approach.

DVD
Taylorsville, 00

For those that want to go back to the 'good old days' where education was all locally run and there wasn't any federal involvement... how do you expect kids to have a 21st century future without the skills to work and understand a 21st century world? It wasn't happening in the 50s when the Soviets were winning the Space Race, so I don't see where you're going to show that it will automatically happen now.

As for the standardized testing, what are the penalties for not improving enough? Or not meeting the standard soon enough? Do the kids lose out by having the teaching staff cut and no where else to go?

sally
Kearns, UT

If the students are required to take tests, then I think the teachers should also be tested on their competency in the subjects they are teaching. I wonder how they would do if they were required to take the same tests as the students. When a college graduate wants to become a licensed teacher they are tested, then required to take classes if they do not pass.

squirt
Taylorsville, ut

Sally, teachers must pass a content exam before being considered qualified to teach a course. Better suggestion would be to have the legislators, parents, and reformers take the exams. This was done in Tennessee and over 83% of the adults failed. So much for being a gauge of success or quality teaching.

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