A simmering scandal? Gotham cheating won't go away

According to Sharon Otterman, writing in today's New York Times, the New York State education department has been documenting cheating allegations in the state's schools for almost a decade ? and no one seems to have known about it, until now. Writes Otterman,

The previously undisclosed database containing the allegations, a 62-page printout of which was obtained by The New York Times in October, provides a window onto the ways that high-stakes testing is roiling school communities, with principals accusing teachers, teachers accusing principals, and teachers accusing other teachers.

The story has been simmering since last summer (see here), when it was reported that cheating allegations in New York City had increased dramatically since Michael Bloomberg had taken over the schools in 2002: ?there had been 1250 test-tampering and grade-changing accusations, with the numbers rising as test scores took on more meaning.

The new statewide cache, reports Otterman, includes 670 tampering allegations, half of them ?verified.? ?Twenty-four of the 146 allegations against Gotham schools were verified. Also this morning Yoav Gonen of the New York Post reported that, ?The investigative arm of the city's Department of Education has confirmed 106 cases of cheating since high-stakes testing expanded to nearly all public- school grades in 2006?. That's in response to 909 allegations of cheating that were reported to city officials in the past six years -- a confirmation rate of about 11 percent.?

Do we have a cheating scandal here or not?

We may never know.? While State education Commissioner John King took quick action, convening a task force last summer that would go on to make some long-overdue recommendations, such as not allowing teachers to grade their own students' state-administered high-stakes tests and renewing erasure analysis to detect cheating, the state and City still seem reluctant to actually investigate for the purposes of prosecuting wrong-doing, as Georgia's governor did in Atlanta.? In fact, as Otterman reports, New York's ?independent investigator? is ?charged with overhauling some of the state's anti-cheating policies? ? a far cry from the full-fledged forensic investigation that the cheating numbers would seem to warrant.

--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

More By Author