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Failing the Integrity Test

"I don't believe there are little transgressions and big transgressions. You're either going to have high integrity, or you're not." Erroll Davis, Jr.

According to a Georgia investigative report, many teachers and administrators working in the Atlanta Public School system found a creative way to raise student scores on standardized tests: they cheated. As The Wall Street Journal reports, state investigators uncovered cheating at 78 percent of the elementary and middle schools they examined.

When we think of cheating on school tests, what usually comes to mind is students copying off their classmates, or sneaking a look at a cheat sheet. But it was the grownups responsible for educating students who initiated the cheating in Atlanta, trying to make it appear that they were meeting their performance benchmarks.

In some instances, teachers encouraged students to change incorrect answers while they were taking tests. Other teachers simply corrected the answers themselves later. At some schools, teachers were able to obtain advance copies of tests, along with answer keys, and share them with students. Then there were teachers who organized parties where colleagues would gather to "fix" test answers.

Atlanta's is not the only school system embroiled in a cheating scandal. Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia have similar problems. There are those who blame widespread cheating on the use of standardized testing; or more specifically, using the tests' results to gauge teacher and administrator performance. Administrators often encourage teachers to cheat, those people argue, to ensure their systems meet the tough requirements for state funding.

Really, that's your defense for cheating? The standards are too high?

There is no written exam that measures a person's integrity. There is only the correlation between your words and your actions. Those educators, who tell students that success requires hard work only to cheat themselves, are failing life's standardized integrity test.
Erroll Davis, Jr., the interim superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, has already fired many of the guilty educators, and he plans to remove all the cheaters as the investigation proceeds. Prosecutors are also getting involved.
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It's all about giving their schools an impressive score. I wonder if it ever occurred to them to improve the way they teach in order to actually meet standards without cheating.

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