Cooking the Books

by John Derbyshire

On the dog-bites-man principal, I think news outlets should stop reporting public-school test-score manipulation scams. They are just too routine. The Atlanta case got a lot of attention, but this is going on all over. Perhaps it would be better to post headlines only when some claim of raised test scores proves, on rigorous independent scrutiny, to be true. That would be news.

Here’s the latest test-score scam from this morning’s papers:

A high school that posted suspicious swings in graduation rates in recent years is under investigation for giving students credits they didn’t earn.

Teachers and other staff members at A. Philip Randolph High School said they blew the whistle after seeing administrators abuse a practice that allows students to quickly make up credits in classes that they previously failed …

I know, I know, I quote myself too much, but allow me just one more & I promise I’ll lay off for the rest of the day. From We Are Doomed, p.130:

This whole topic of education is a glorious feast for pessimists of all kinds. Not only does no-one have a clue what to do about the achievement, behavior, and math sex gaps, but government programs to address them have just the kinds of results a pessimist expects when money and jobs are offered to people willing to say they will do something that nobody knows how to do. Those results will inevitably be: cheating, corruption, and cover-ups.

Most of these book-cooking exercises arise from the intense political pressure on educators to close the racial test-score gaps. (Philip Randolph HS is 96 percent black and Hispanic.) Since nobody actually knows how to do this, and all the obvious things have long since been tried and failed, corruption is the inevitable result.

How about we just try to give the best education we can to all kids, without paying any attention to their race or ethnicity? But, no, that’s crazy talk … Sorry.

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