There can be innocent reasons for multiple erasures. A student can lose his place on the answer sheet, fill in answers on the wrong rows, then change them when he realizes his mistake. And, as McGraw-Hill said in a March 2009 report to D.C. officials, studies also show that test-takers change answers more often when they are encouraged to review their work. The same report emphasizes that educators “should not draw conclusions about cheating behavior” from the data alone.
Haladyna notes, however, that when entire classrooms at schools with statistically rare erasures show fast-rising test scores, that suggests someone might have “tampered with the answer sheets,” perhaps after the tests were collected from students. Although not proof of cheating, such a case underscores the need for an investigation, he says.
Like the earlier posted article about cheating, we harm our students and ourselves when we help them cheat (or cheat for them). No benefit to the student comes from raising a student’s test score. It might make the teacher and the school look good, but the next teacher has to deal with that student’s shortcomings. And if that continues, eventually there’s a high school senior who can barely read or do multiplication.
"This is like an education Ponzi scam," says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers’ Union. "If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That’s incredibly dangerous."
You’ve got to admit, this is a situation rife with temptation.
Board members say that, like parents, they have been kept in the dark about testing irregularities. The state board wasn’t aware, Lord says, of the dispute between the superintendent’s office and Rhee until its members saw reports in TheWashington Post in the fall of 2009. She says she did not see the erasure analysis or the lists of schools flagged by McGraw-Hill until USA TODAY shared its copies.
The fact that parents didn’t know was not surprising, though they should have been made aware. The fact that school boards didn’t know - that’s startling. There’s either a serious communication problem, or someone is, perhaps intentionally, derelict in their duty.