"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The GAO Establishes Site for Citizens to Report "Potential State Testing Improprieties" when it Cheats Taxpayers for Lavish Conferences?

This federal worker is from the GAO, now charged to investigate school cheating....while the GAO has cheated taxpayers of millions of dollars with its own improprieties.

Teacher cheating scandals have been in the news the last few years.  Michelle Rhee, the darling of charter schools and school choice has had her issues with keeping those test scores up to support her educational reform.  From the Washington Post:

Nobody was particularly surprised when the D.C. Inspector General’s Office, after a 17-month investigation into allegations of widespread cheating on standardized tests in D.C. public schools, issued a new report which concluded that the suspicions were unfounded.

The probe was launched in 2011 in large response to a USA Today Kaya Henderson and Michelle Rhee (Ricky Carioti/WASHINGTON POST) investigation that focused on Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus, finding through documents and data an unusually high number of erasures where wrong answers had been erased and right answers then marked in. But the newspaper also noted that erasures on tests were flagged as outside the norm at 103 schools at least once since 2008.

Thus it isn’t exactly clear how Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby came to that conclusion.

Investigators only delved into cheating suspicions at Noyes, where big gains on scores were reported during the time that Michelle Rhee was schools chancellor and linked student test scores to the evaluations of some teachers. Willoughby’s team found that at least one teacher had cheated, and decided that because they found so little fire amid the smoke, there was no reason to look at any other schools, the report said.
Yes, that’s what they found after 17 months of work.

....Of course, there is a history in Washington, D.C., of cheating allegations — and less than a determined effort to get to the bottom of it. Back in 2009, my colleague Bill Turque wrote about an investigation into possible cheating at 26 public and public charter schools where reading and math scores had shot up in 2008. The suspicions were never thoroughly investigated by the Rhee administration.

With the increased pressure of  teacher evaluations based on student performance and "free market" principles applied to human capital assessments, there is evidence and concern that teachers and administrators will cheat to keep their jobs and school funding.

The Post continues:

Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest, says the only cases nationwide in which cheating has been fully documented are when truly independent investigators were brought in.  

The government's answer to "independent" investigators documenting potential test cheating has created new responsibilities for the General Accounting Office (GAO).  It has established a "whistle blowing " site where individuals can tip the Federal Government to potential cheating by teachers and administrators.  From https://tell.gao.gov/csa59/:

Potential State Testing Improprieties

U.S. Government Accountability Office

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has created this website for the purpose of gathering information on fraudulent behavior in state-administered standardized tests. The information submitted here will be used as part of an ongoing GAO investigation into cheating by school officials nationwide, and will be referred to the appropriate State Educational Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, or other agencies, as appropriate. 

Any information provided through this website will be encrypted through our secure server and handled only by authorized staff. GAO will not release any individually identifiable information provided through this website unless compelled by law or required to do so by Congress. Anonymous reports are also welcome. However, providing GAO with as much information as possible allows us to ensure that our investigation is as thorough and efficient as possible. Providing contact information is particularly important to enable clarification or requests for additional information regarding submitted reports. 

Click on the button below to begin.
Click to view GAO Security and Privacy statement GAO Logo Click to Verify - This site has chosen an SSL Certificate to improve Web site security

This is yet another Federal bureaucratic layer on education.  This is also from the agency with lavish spending on conferences in Las Vegas and its own ethics violations.  This site, federalnewsradio.com, is an excellent source for many of the financial and ethical issues plaguing GAO, now charged with policing cheating in schools.  The GAO epitomizes the waste of federal dollars and now it is charge of investigating abuse in state/local schools?  You would think this idea is from The Onion, but unfortunately, it is a sad truth.

Aren't you delighted such a sterling federal agency is investigating potential educational cheating in schools?  What happened to districts and states policing themselves for improprieties in their schools?  What happened to districts and states crafting their own assessments for their students?  What do you think will happen when these  untested and unproven assessments are used to gauge teacher accountability?  

Do you think these assessments will reform education and provide the knowledge your student needs to become a self-directed individual or is this just another multimillion boondoggle from an agency that is under Congressional investigation?  Who/what is driving this educational nightmare of educational reform?

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