Gregory Cizek, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was kind enough to speak to me for my recent article on cheating in Atlanta schools. He provided expert assistance to the state investigators who produced an 800-page report cataloging instances of cheating for the past several years.
Now, he has written an editorial for EdWeek that explains what he believes we can learn from the Atlanta episode. An excerpt, where he urges people to keep these cheating incidents in perspective:
As long as important educational decisions are informed in part by test results, cheating will occur. It's a huge mistake, however, to think that the incentives to cheat in school settings are fundamentally any different from those in any other context. There's money to be saved by overstating deductions on tax returns; fame and fortune for Major Leaguers who use steroids to improve their sliders or their batting averages; temptation to plagiarize to keep the prestige associated with reporting for The New York Times; and political power to be gained through voter fraud. All such cheating would go away if we did away with baseball, taxes, newspapers, and free elections. Short of that, there will always will be some—hopefully small—percentage of folks who cut corners. Education is no exception.
He goes on to outline some concrete steps states and districts could take to combat cheating. What do you think about his ideas, such as developing tests that rely less on multiple choice, and investing in computer-administered exams?