These policies contradict the findings and recommendations of Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, released last year by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. That study’s distinguished panel of experts concluded that high-stakes testing has not improved educational quality
Cracking down on cheating is necessary but far from sufficient. The reports by the Georgia Office of Special Investigators should be a national model of “best practices” for detecting and responding to testing irregularities. Unfortunately, educational bureaucrats may have vested interests in protecting current policies and personnel.
Comprehensive reviews by independent law enforcement professionals are often necessary. Combined with the full range of forensic detection tools — including analyses for high numbers of erasures, unusual score gains and patterns of similar responses — this approach has proved most likely to root out the truth.
More policing and better after-the-fact investigations will not, however, solve the many problems caused by the misuse of standardized exam scores. Instead, high-stakes testing requirements must end. They cheat students out of a high-quality education and cheat the public out of accurate information about school quality.
Robert Schaeffer is public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing.