A reader commented on an earlier blog about the way the system demands a high success rate and will not tolerate honest marking. If a student fails, it will be considered the teacher’s fault, so it is best to inflate the scores. If a teacher is honest–especially in a “turnaround” school–the teacher will be fired. As Secretary Arne Duncan used to say, “We are lying to the kids.” Now we are lying to the kids and to ourselves.

The fraud continues. Teachers will inflate the scores. Administrators will pressure them to do so, because the administrators will lose their job if the scores and pass marks don’t go up every year.

Someone tweeted me the other day to ask who should be blamed when there is cheating: the teachers or the system. The answer is obvious when teachers and administrators work in a system that gives them this choice: Produce higher scores or be fired. Few people want to be fired. Most people put a high priority on feeding their family and paying the mortgage.

Who caused the collapse of the auto industry: the “bad” workers on the assembly line or the people who made decisions about what to produce?

This came from an administrator:

I don’t usually reply to what I read, but am up early today, thinking about the school year before I get dressed to go to graduation. I am a supervisor of a social studies department in a NYC public high school. I am thinking about how many extra pull-out programs, after school review sessions, etc., it took this spring to get the same number of students to pass our two Regents exams as we had last year. Why is that? Because too many students listed as level 2 readers could barely read and write when they came to us, too many students came to us thinking all they had to do was show up in class most of the time to pass and too many students never got the preparation they needed to become high school students. This lament is not a condemnation of elementary and junior high school teachers. We know the kind of pressure they have been put through to pass 80% or so of their students. However, high school is the end product. Many of the students we have in our school today have little or no hope of graduating on time. If high schools aren’t vigilant about failing those who do not successfuly complete their work, too many students will be paying for remedial courses in college. The pressure is on. The smoke and mirrors continues. And the emperors (choose the appropriate names) aren’t wearing any clothes.