Test Cheats

Published March 1, 2000

A dozen teachers in Los Angeles County’s Banning High School face disciplinary action after school officials in January determined they helped students cheat on the Stanford-9 exam last spring. The teachers obtained a copy of two sections of the test and used the questions to “prepare” their students for the test. Another teacher resigned when presented with evidence of the scheme.

Although state testing guidelines in Georgia say require all students classified as juniors to take the state high school graduation test, an investigative report released in December showed that the Houston County High School system prevented at least 18 eligible juniors from taking the test. A month earlier, The Augusta Chronicle reported that officials at Groves High School in Savannah had prevented varsity wrestler David Gay from taking the Scholastic Assessment Test because it would bring down the school’s overall score.

In what was said to be the nation’s first criminal prosecution against a school district, the Austin, Texas, school district was indicted last April on 16 separate charges of manipulating student records for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test to improve state school rankings for the district’s three elementary schools. State ratings of the schools were raised when the tests for several low-scoring students were excluded because the student identification numbers on their test papers had deliberately been altered. Travis County Attorney Ken Oden pursued indictment of the district and its Deputy Superintendent Kay Psencik on the grounds that the district had broken the law by tampering with government records.

In 1997, Kentucky’s seven-year education reform effort–which rewards teachers with cash bonuses if their school’s test scores improve–was marred by evidence of cheating by teachers to improve student scores, by highly subjective portfolio assessments, and by miscalculated test scores. (See “Teachers, Not Kids, Cheat in Kentucky,” School Reform News, November 1997.)