Assessment Letter to the Editor

Atlanta Cheating Essay Contains ‘Empty Claims’

May 07, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Michael J. Feuer’s Commentary on the Atlanta cheating scandal contains his own set of empty claims in order to protect the use of standardized testing. Some examples:

• “Do we react to the worst instances of tax evasion by condemning the concept of taxation rather than by prosecuting the evaders?” Actually, we do. Certainly from people opposed to taxation generally and to current federal tax policy specifically. Even progressive tax-policy advocates recognize the distortions that enable cheating, and thus seek an overhaul to create a more effective system.

• "[E]ven if one could make an evidence-informed case that testing ‘inevitably’ leads to illegal behavior,” there is “no evidence that federal policy causes cheating, or that ‘cheating is inevitable.' " If testing inevitably leads to illegal behavior, the source of the test would indeed be implicated. This is one reason teachers have soured on President Barack Obama, whose administration promotes testing.

• "[W]hat’s needed is a sensible approach to assessing the ratio of benefits to costs and to the design of mechanisms meant to keep the ratio strongly positive.” Educators opposed to using tests as the sole metric for evaluating student learning derive their thinking from experienced cost-benefit analysis. They feel it is more effective to utilize a diversity of context-appropriate metrics.

• “We shouldn’t allow score gains inflated from cheating to be misconstrued as evidence that any measured improvement in student learning ... must always be the result of cheating or other mischief.” Mr. Feuer should request in-depth qualitative research into those schools that did improve. Then we can examine why.

I support Mr. Feuer’s overarching point. We do a disservice to our students when our dialogue devolves into partisan abstractions about what is happening in schools. Effective discussion requires no one to cheat their way through an argument.

Neil J. Liss

Clinical Instructor

Willamette University

Salem, Ore.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2013 edition of Education Week as Atlanta Cheating Essay Contains ‘Empty Claims’


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Cardona Says Standardized Tests Haven't Always Met the Mark, Offers New Flexibility
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking to reinvigorate a little-used pilot program to create new types of assessments.
7 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP
Assessment Opinion The 4 Common Myths About Grading Reform, Debunked
Grading reformers and their critics all have the same goal: grades that truly reflect student learning. Here’s how we move forward.
Sarah Ruth Morris & Matt Townsley
5 min read
Venn diagram over a macro shot of A- on white results sheet. Extremely shallow focus. Letter grades are highlighted.
E+/Getty + Vanessa Solis/Education Week
Assessment If ChatGPT Can Write Virtually Anything, What Should a National Writing Exam Test?
That's a question the board that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress is confronting amid AI's rapid ascendance.
6 min read
Image of a person using a computer, with glasses, papers, and pencil on the desk too.
Assessment From Our Research Center Few Educators Say A-F and Numeric Grades Offer 'Very Effective' Feedback for Students
Fewer than 1 in 6 educators—13 percent— say that A through F or numeric grades are a “very effective way” to give feedback to students.
3 min read
Cropped image of teacher standing in front of a blurred classroom of students with test results in hand showing the letter A in red.