An excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article  Cheating on tests found at two Los Angeles schools:

Locally, at six charter schools operated by Crescendo, principals were ordered last year to require teachers to review the state tests in advance and then use that material to prepare students. L.A. Unified recently closed those schools in the aftermath of the scandal.

Such episodes underscore the pressures and pitfalls of testing systems that, nationwide, increasingly affect teacher and principal evaluations and whether schools achieve acclaim or censure and penalties.

This is the product of high stakes testing. It places the pressure on principals, teachers and students to “perform”, whatever that means. In our state, the ed reformers, with the assistance of the state PTA, will try again during the next legislative session to put a greater emphasis on testing as an indicator of the “success” of a school, a principal or a teacher.

Charter schools live or die by test scores.  If the test scores of a charter school averages out to a number that is lower than the requirement set by the state, that charter school is either placed on probation or they are required to close their doors. If after two or three years, the time period varies from state to state, the charter school does not “perform” up to the set standard, then the charter school is closed.

According to the Washington State PTA government relations coordinator  Ramona Hattendorf in her newsletter for July:

  • · The Merit/SIG schools (who received federal money to improve outcomes) are required to make student growth a significant factor in evaluations as a condition of their grant.
  • · The Seattle School District adopted an evaluation system last year that factors in student growth. It uses two-year student growth averages. As part of the evaluation process, teachers set goals around student growth. While failure to meet goals doesn’t necessarily affect the evaluation, low growth will trigger more oversight/intervention. Alternatively, proven growth opens up career opportunities.

It will be more difficult with fewer resources and larger class sizes due to the financial crisis of the state and the nation for teachers to  provide more with less

And, how fair is it to evaluate one teacher based on the two year growth of a student? What about the teacher the student had previously? How does that play into the evaluation process?

There is too much emphasis placed on “student achievement” evaluations based on test scores nationwide thanks to the Race to the Top crusade headed by Arne Duncan and supported by President Obama.

If we are not careful, we will see the same kind of cheating in our state that we have seen in New Orleans, D.C. and Los Angeles.