More Test Cheating

K-12 Testing

K-12 Cheating

The spring 2002 high-stakes testing season produced yet more cases of cheating by administrators, teachers and students (see Examiner, Spring 1999). For example:


In Gary, Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) results for hundreds of students were invalidated after Department of Education investigators concluded that some teachers shared secure test items with students during practice tests. Unable to pinpoint the exact number of students involved, scores were thrown out for all who took the tests, including 60 seniors who must now attempt to acquire state waivers in order to graduate. Others must retake the test in the fall.


A scandal also rocked the nationally honored Costano School in Palo Alto, California when former students said that some teachers gave them correct answers during testing. One former teacher claims school administrators encouraged him to help students cheat, telling him to do whatever was necessary to raise scores. District officials state that tests given last year in two grades show an unusually high number of erasures changing incorrect answers to correct. District officials denied cheating had occurred, but the deputy superintendent of accountability stated that there was very strong statistical evidence to the contrary. Costano was highlighted in a report by the pro high-stakes testing group Education Trust last December (See Examiner, Winter 2001-02).


In Austin, Texas a criminal case stemming from a 1999 cheating incident has been settled. Austin school district officials pled no-contest and agreed to a $5000 fine in response to a charge that two administrators had manipulated Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) data from several elementary schools in order to improve the district's overall average.