by David Safier
This story about teacher cheating on standardized testing is so teacherly, so . . . kinda cute and comical in a good-teacher way, it almost makes me want to cry. It's from a recent AP article discussing how careless states are about security measures when it comes to high stakes tests and how common cheating is.
Read it and weep.
A teacher at a Phoenix elementary school, for example, told a colleague that she'd used red and green M&Ms during a test to nudge students toward the right answers. If she set a red M&M on a child's desk, that signaled the pupil had the wrong answer and should do the problem over again. If she put a green one on the desk, that meant the child had the right answer and should move on.
Positive reinforcement in the form of a little treat, whether it makes students confident about their right answers or nudges them to look and see if they can find a better answer. How lovely! . . . except the moment the first M&M touched the first desk, the teacher was guilty of cheating and the student's test was rendered invalid.
More on the subject in the next few paragraphs of the article:
Sharon Rideau, an elementary and middle school teacher in California, told the red-and-green M&M story in her doctoral thesis, which focused on cheating. Rideau's survey of more than 3,000 Arizona teachers in 2008 revealed 50 percent either had cheated themselves or knew a colleague who cheated.
"I think it happens much, much more now," Rideau said. "It happened before NCLB and now we have all this pressure on us. It's had a great impact."