It really should come as no surprise that cheating on standardized tests is becoming more prevalent. The schools increasingly are tying almost every kind of evaluation to these scores, including teacher performance evaluations. Teachers and administrators have joined their students in the growing anxiety over these high-stakes tests and their implied meaning.
I use the term "implied meaning" because what these scores seem to imply is in fact not true at all. What schools are seeking in rising test score numbers is an assurance that there are real gains in student learning. But while test score gains may reflect an increase in the number of questions answered correctly, what they do not confirm is an unequivocal advance in mastery of a subject.
This is the key reason why so many high school graduates today need remedial courses when they get to college.
American schools are deeply in need of a wider, less data-driven assessment model, one that is not solely focused on the academic model of college graduation. Businesses must be more involved, and we must look to the world around us for examples of a more intelligent approach to testing.