Educational Editorial: Teachers cheating on SOLs

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In recent news stories, Petersburg, Richmond, Roanoke, Stafford, and Montgomery County have come under scrutiny for cheating. Not students, but teachers and administrators.

The state's accountability system, SOL testing, and the federal No Child Left Behind requirements have been blamed as the purveyors of pressure that can push school staff to cheat. But as testing coordinator Carol Jennings said in the Roanoke Times, "You trust people as professionals to do their jobs correctly."

What are the lessons for young people? The most obvious is that if you think that your job is in jeopardy, whether real or perceived, you can break the rules. If you might be embarrassed by the performance of your students or school, it is OK to look for a loophole. And then there is the "Robin Hood" scenario: If it is good for the young people, then cheating is no longer wrong, it is moral high ground.

In the past four years the Virginia Department of Education has reported sixty-five "irregularities" of teachers helping students with tests. While some might argue that these numbers are insignificant considering that about a million students are tested a year, the acceptable standard must be zero.

Many school divisions have "zero tolerance" policies for student behavior, so it seems that we must now institute "zero tolerance" for teacher and administrator conduct.

While state and local administrators take these issues very seriously, there is also an air of "but you need to understand the pressure." Well, what we need to show students is that you work hard, work smart, take your best shot, and prepare for the consequences, either rewards or sanctions!

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