Missouri Teachers Caught Helping Students Cheat
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received more than
100 reports of standardized testing problems, including teachers who encouraged
cheating, in 2010 and 2011 ó but the department has no plans to use the tools
already at its disposal to root out further test fraud.
Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair
and Open Testing, told the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch, ďIf you donít look, you donít find. You are void of
embarrassment by not asking tough questions.Ē It looks like Missouri education
officials agree. Though the state has ready access to effective tools that would
help detect testing abuses, it relies on an unreliable self-reporting system, in
which school districts must contact the state when abuses are discovered. And
although No Child Left Behind requires states to perform accountability checks
to ensure fair testing, Missouri dismantled its accountability program in 2010,
citing budget concerns.
Itís likely that teacher-sponsored cheating is more widespread than Missouriís
self-reporting system indicates. Reported incidents include one fifth-grade
class in which students were called out of class to redo parts of a science
test, three teachers who violated state policy when they looked through a
fourth-grade test and created a study guide for student use, and a student who
started a make-up math test only to find the answers already filled in for him.
Some districts report that an atmosphere of intimidation means many problems
probably go unreported. At Herzog Elementary School, three teachers were
referred to as ďdevilsĒ after they reported several abuses to Superintendent
Kelvin Adams. School staff also protested the report by wearing the same color
in solidarity against the teachers.
Missouri spends $8.4 million annually on its state assessment program, which was
developed about 20 years ago to help the Missouri Board of Education measure
student progress and accredit school districts. Itís estimated that the
department would only need to spend $20,000-$50,000 a year to proactively root
out cheating with effective statistical analyses, but officials say the cost is
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