Parents --- Your Children's Report Card May Be Rigged
Under the "No Child Left Behind Act," public schools whose students consistently fail standardized tests can be shut down. To protect their jobs, teachers and principals are now under intense pressure to cheat ? to fudge test scores and report cards to fool parents and school administrators.
Myron Lieberman, author and former high-school teacher, listed some of the ways teachers can ?cheat? in his book ?Public Education: an Autopsy?:
1. Poor students were excluded or discouraged from taking the tests
2. Teachers assigned tests as homework or taught test items in class
3. Test security was minimal or even nonexistent
4. Students were allowed more time than prescribed by test regulations
5. Unrealistic, highly improbable improvements from test to test were not audited or investigated
6. Teachers and administrators were not punished for flagrant violations of test procedures
7. Test results were reported in ways that exaggerated achievement levels
In December 1999, a special investigation of New York City schools revealed that two principals and dozens of teachers and assistant teachers were helping students cheat on standardized math and reading tests.
Andrew J. Coulson, in his brilliant book, "Market Education: The Unknown History," sites an example of how public schools deliberately lie to parents about their children?s academic abilities:
?Consistently greeted by A?s and B?s on their children?s report cards, the parents of Zavala Elementary School had been lulled into complacency, believing that both the school and its students were performing well. In fact, Zavala was one of the worst schools in the district, and its students ranked near the bottom on statewide standardized tests. When a new principal took over the helm and requested that the statewide scores be read out at a PTA meeting, parents were dismayed by their children?s abysmal showing, and furious with teachers and school officials for misleading them with inflated grades.?
In 1990, three academics, Harold Stevenson, Chuansheng Chen, and David Uttal did a study of the attitudes and academic achievement of black, white, and hispanic children in Chicago. They found a disturbing gap between what parents thought their children were learning and the children?s actual performance. Teachers in high-poverty schools had given A?s to students for work that would have earned them C?s or D?s in affluent suburban schools. In the study, black mothers of Chicago elementary school students rated their child?s skills and abilities quite high and thought their kids were doing well in reading and math. The children thought the same thing.
Unfortunately, the researchers found that the parents? and children?s self-evaluations of their math and reading skills were way above their actual achievement levels. There was a big gap between their optimistic self-evaluations and their dismal academic performance on independent tests. Public schools were giving these children a false idea of their academic skill levels. In other words, these children were heading towards failure and no one bothered to tell them.
Parents, it would not be wise to trust any claims by teachers or school authorities about your children?s alleged academic abilities, even in so-called ?good? schools in suburban neighborhoods. To find out how your child is really doing, have an outside independent company test your child?s reading and math skills.
If you find that your child?s academic skills are far below what your local public-school led you to believe, you might want to take your child out of public school and look for better education alternatives. There is a complete Resource section in ?Public Schools, Public Menace? that explores many of these quality, low-cost education alternatives.
About the Author: Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst, and author of ?Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children."
Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel.
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