I confess, I may be guilty of helping students improve their scores on standardized tests. Just last week I was helping my eight-year old grandchildren, third-graders scheduled to take the new common core based tests, with their math homework. When they were finished, I asked Gideon and Sadia if they had checked their work. Now Sadia values accuracy, so when she said she checked her work I just initialed it. But Gideon values speed over accuracy and even though he said he had checked his work, I thought it advisable to take a closer look at it. Of course I found a couple of careless errors. I gave it back to him and told him he had to check his work again — which he knew meant he had made mistakes.
If these homework assignments are factored into their grades for the school year, Gideon, who ultimately got the questions right on his own, will get “inflated” grades because of the help he received at home. I guess in the new world of high-stakes testing even for the youngest children that makes me a cheater, but I thought as a grandparent, I was supposed to help them with their homework.
I am writing this blog because justified accusations about changing student answers on standardized tests in Atlanta, Georgia have become a witch hunt and all teachers are now considered suspect of cheating. In Glen Cove, New York, a dozen teachers from two elementary schools are being investigated and face disciplinary action for such nebulous infractions as “violating test protocol and not following the proscribed guidance in the testing manuals” during the spring 2012 elementary school reading and math tests.