A destructive cheating scandal

A destructive cheating scandal

January 9th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

For probably as long as there have been tests in school, there have been students who have cheated -- or tried to cheat -- on those tests.

Everybody knows that's wrong, of course, and it's harmful to the cheaters on many levels. It makes them think they can get something for nothing, and it keeps them from working to gain the education they will need for a successful life.

But that harm took on a disgusting new dimension in Georgia last year when it was learned that scores of teachers and principals in Atlanta Public Schools had helped students cheat on important standardized tests.

Alas, the scandal apparently was not limited to Atlanta.

A more recent investigation shows that dozens of teachers in Georgia's Dougherty County helped students cheat on standardized tests as well -- or at a minimum the teachers failed to keep students from cheating. And it is believed that "far more" teachers were involved in the cheating than were formally named in the report, The Associated Press reported.

"Disgraceful" is how a report on the investigation described the situation.

And it surely is disgraceful -- as well as destructive to the students involved. In one instance, students in a fifth-grade class did suspiciously well on a standardized test even though their teacher acknowledged that they could not read!

What prospects for a prosperous future do students have if they are simply advanced through their school years on the basis of false test scores -- when they have not learned the material? And what message does it send to them about integrity and about playing by the rules when their own teachers and principals encourage them to cheat?

The growing cheating scandal in Georgia is a black eye for the state, and a sign of bad things to come for the students involved.