Saturday, March 24, 2012


TO:       Journalists Who Cover Education
FROM:  Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director, National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)
RE:       Test Cheating
DATE:   March 24, 2012

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's investigation of suspicious test scores around the nation is the latest example of how the widespread, politically mandated misuse of standardized tests is damaging U.S. public schools and the children they serve. Yes, cheating on standardized exams is very widespread -- FairTest has documented confirmed cases of test score manipulation in 33 states plus the District of Columbia in just the past three academic years with apparent systematic patterns of improper behavior in at least a dozen (list available on request).

These scandals are the predictable result of over-reliance on test scores, as our fact sheet "Tests, Cheating and Educational Corruption" ( demonstrates. In fact, most high-stakes testing practices violate the standards for professional assessment and, in many instances, the proper use guidelines of the exams' manufacturers themselves.

At the same time, the testing obsession has neither significantly improved overall school  performance nor closed persistent achievement gaps between racial groups, as demonstrated by the past decade's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results

Enhanced test security may reduce the number of reported problems, but a real solution requires a comprehensive overhaul of federal, state and local testing requirements. Politicians such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan need to stop mouthing platitudes and reexamine their own failed policies.

Please feel free to call on FairTest whenever you are reporting about any facet of testing or assessment. This weekend, I can be reached directly via my cell phone at 239 699-0468

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