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Testing Accountability Causing Teachers to Cheat?

With standardized tests gaining increased importance in education policy, experts say teachers have increasingly been helping their students cheat on the tests, according to a report in the New York Times.

The national push towards test-based accountability—most recently in connection with tying teacher pay incentives to students' test performance—has only put more pressure on teachers to boost their students' scores, some experts say.

"Educators feel that their schools' reputation, their livelihoods, their psychic meaning in life is at stake," said Robert Schaeffer, the public education director for FairTest. "That ends up pushing more and more of them over the line."

The Times story chronicled some of the more egregious cheating scandals in recent memory, including incidents in Georgia, Springfield, Mass., and Norfolk, Va.

"When you add in performance pay and your evaluation could possibly be predicated on how well your kids do testing-wise, it's just an enormous amount of pressure," said Dr. Crawford Lewis, a former district superintendent in Georgia who was found guilty of tampering with tests.

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