Computer-adapting to cheating
These days, teacher-evaluation systems that incorporate students’ test scores are spreading like wildfire. And there’s little sign that these initiatives will be contained to the twenty-six states that currently have them. Yet checks for potential cheating on these selfsame assessments haven’t been as vigorously promulgated, a point nattily made this week by Alexander Russo. According to a USA Today analysis, only half the states either conducted erasure analyses (to check for cheating) or used computer-based assessments in 2010-11. (Perhaps there’s lots of overlap between these two groups of states—but Gadfly wouldn’t bet on it.) Thing is, with strapped budgets and looming NCLB proficiency requirements, many states see few incentives to spend beaucoup bucks on erasure analyses. Fortunately, this tempest may soon end. Both PARCC and SBAC, the two groups working on creating Common Core assessments, will employ computer-based tests beginning in the 2014-15 school year. This use of technology will make test erasures a moot point for the forty-four states plus D.C. that have signed on to one of the consortia and adopted the CCSS—though it will surely usher in the need for other safeguards against exam hacking and other malfeasances. But these jurisdictions also benefit from economy of scale, which can help curb cheating, without breaking the bank. CCSS adopters: 1; test cheating: 0.
“Few states examine test erasures,” by Marisol Bello and Greg Toppo, USA Today, September 13, 2011.
“Teachers are put to the test,” by Stephanie Banchero and David Kesmodel, Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2011.
“Big States Don’t Check for Cheating, Despite Scandals,” by Louis Beckett, ProPublica and Education Week, September 14, 2011.
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