Beginning April 5th, Galt High will begin taking the California Standards Tests for the 9th through 11th graders. Our government uses incentives to encourage or discourage behavior. Rewards (usually money) and punishments (fines, closings, and firings) are used. For students historically, the test has no punishments and minor rewards. This week, for example, some of you were invited to lunch with a teacher and some of you were let out of class early and given ice cream. This year, Galt High is offering a grade boost for high scores, but not for Fs.
Most incentives for the test affect schools and jobs. Schools with low scores can be closed and Principals and teachers can be fired. By 2014, the federal law dictates, 100% of public school students must be 'proficient' in math and reading. If not, a school can face replacement of its entire staff.
Some states and localities have rewards as well, including up to $25,000 bonuses for teachers with good scores and improvement. So what are the consequences of high rewards and high punishments?
Schools in Washington D.C. have joined a list of schools around the country under investigation for irregularities in their testing on statewide standardized tests. The claim is that cheating is occurring, including one teacher in Ohio who gave his class the answers to study before the test. Read the article, so you have some basis to add to your answers.
Cheating already occurs among students on tests that affect their grades.
Does making a test count encourage more cheating? For example, compare a practice test or CST before the grade bump to a normal in class test or a final exam.
What do you think the overall results of offering a letter grade increase will do to CST test scores?
Do all teachers do enough to prevent cheating? Give examples if you know some.
If money were an incentive, would that make people work harder or just be more dishonest or both?
If you might get fired over low test scores, is cheating worth saving your job?
What then is the solution? How do we get students and teachers and schools to educate and assess and care about the results?
Big question I know, but give it a shot.