Critics of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have long warned that the federal government’s demand for ever higher test scores would lead to perverse consequences. There would be narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, cheating, and gaming the system. All of these things have happened, but the advocates of high-stakes testing don’t listen and don’t care.

It isn’t always easy to explain what it means to “game the system.” Connecticut provides an excellent exemplar of what it means and how it is done.

Quite simply, there are districts that have figured out that the best way to raise test scores is to assign more children to the alternate assessment given to students with special needs. As the number of reassignments grows, the scores on the regular state tests rise.

And without any change in curriculum or instruction, the leadership can boast of getting great results. This is what has been called “addition by subtraction.”

It is also a good example of gaming the system.