Teachers have their own grapevine. Of course most are honest, but when word spreads that So-and-So got away with this and Whatsisname's superiors looked the other way at that, the temptation to cheat could spread.

Boston Herald editorial
"Euphemism hides MCAS cheating"
Feb. 26, 2000

"Ultimately, these tax cuts would destroy the state's ability to fix schools and improve education. We can't afford another fiscal crisis, particularly one that's created intentionally. That's why teachers, business leaders, community groups, unions, and local officials across the state are joining with TEAM to reject these irresponsible proposals. In November, voters will tell Paul Cellucci to go back to the drawing board. We need an education agenda that will help students and teachers, not massive tax cuts and a new fiscal crisis."

"The $2.8 billion tax cuts go too far"
By Jim St. George, executive director, TEAM
Breaking News: Massachusetts Teachers Association

This is the face of our opponent in the upcoming ballot campaign to roll back the "temporary" income tax rate hike.

The unscrupulous Massachusetts Teachers Association has long supported breaking promises, so perhaps it should come as no surprise to now learn there is cheating among its members, the teachers. The union sets the example for its members.

As usual, they're only cheating "for the children."

And it's not "cheating" when teachers do it: it's merely "improprieties."

What a pathetic example these teachers set "for the children." But these corrupt intermediaries have learned well what passes for ethics from their union bosses.

Taxpayer-funding for state education sky-rocketed from $1.5 billion in 1992 to $3.5 billion last year under seven years of so-called "Education Reform."

So what did we get for the annual $2 billion increase in funding? We've got continued illiteracy, failing grades, and an epidemic of cheating by teachers attempting to cover-up their incompetence.

And, of course, we've got their demands for ever more and more of our money to further squander on failure.

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Saturday, February 26, 2000

State modifies MCAS guidelines
By Sandy Coleman
Globe Staff

Come April, students taking MCAS exams won't find out the questions early and pass them along to friends in other districts and teachers won't be tempted to take the essays home to review, say state education officials.

School officials are hoping to stop some of the "improprieties" that surfaced after the 1999 test, leading to eight teachers being reprimanded.

But just because some educators break the rules, there is no reason to shy away from standardized tests, said Robert Brenner, who was part of an investigative unit that recently uncovered a standardized testing scandal in New York dating back a decade.

"There needs to be a clear directive from the top that this type of cheating will not be tolerated. The stakes if you get caught have to be as high as the stakes are for improving performance," Brenner said yesterday.

Brenner is with the Special Commissioner of Investigation office in New York that discovered 52 educators at 32 different schools were allegedly involved in cheating on tests given to third-, fourth-, sixth- and eighth-graders. In some cases teachers gave correct answers, finished sentences on essays and pointed out wrong answers while students were taking tests.

The solution for New York, as well as other states facing similar testing improprieties, is to make schools more accountable, Brenner said. New York is working on implementing changes including ensuring that tests are not delivered to class until right before it is to be given and having independent monitors review how the test is being administered.

Massachusetts' measures aren't as drastic, but hopefully the simple revisions will be enough to discourage any rule-breaking, said Alan Safran, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Education.

Allegations included charges that teachers and administrators in at least 19 schools violated some of the guidelines, from letting students revise answers to telling colleagues in other schools what the questions were.

While the Department of Education does not call the incidences cheating because they did not involve students copying the answers of others, they acknowledge the behavior was inappropriate.

"We take the allegations seriously," Safran said. But "there were very few cases relative to the number of schools, 1,800, and the number of kids, a quarter of a million."

Ninety percent of the infractions cropped up around the long composition, he said. Because the test was administered over two days chosen by the schools, questions leaked out and were passed around.

Now the long composition will be given on the same day in all the schools. "We have closed down that loophole," Safran said. "It provided an opportunity for mischief in a small number of cases."

Training sessions in March on how to administer the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests will review and reenforce proper test-taking guidelines for administrators, teachers and principals. Principals are responsible for watching over the test.

A comprehensive review should still be done to ensure the current testing procedures are adequate, Roberta Schaefer, vice chairwoman of the state Board of Education, said yesterday.

However, there are commonly accepted rules for taking any test, she said.

"I don't think they include giving back the exam after it's been collected for them to make corrections," she said. "The superintendent and principal need to send a clear message to their teachers."

The Boston Herald
Saturday, February 26, 2000
A Boston Herald editorial

Euphemism hides MCAS cheating

Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a few teachers helped their students cheat on the MCAS tests last spring. What is surprising and appalling is that the Department of Education refuses to use the word "cheating."

Boston magazine revealed the incidents in 19 communities after spending eight months prying documents out of the department that should have been freely available. In response, Commissioner David Driscoll said "some testing conditions" did not "follow our precise guidelines" but the department had been unable to uncover any "deliberate intent to influence test results unfairly."

Well, what can you call giving students two days to work on the essay part of the test that should have been done in one? That happened in Billerica, Cambridge, Lexington, Methuen, Foxboro and Stoughton. What can you call giving out the essay topic in advance? That happened in Brookline, Dover, Longmeadow, Lunenberg and Winthrop. Or handing tests back and telling students to do more? That happened in Boston and Melrose.

It's pure sophistry to argue that some teachers must have thought these tactics were OK since the tests are untimed.

If this much cheating (all across the socioeconomic spectrum, it must be noted) was uncovered in a year when the results didn't count, what can the state expect in 2001, when the 10th-grade tests will count for graduation in 2003?

Teachers have their own grapevine. Of course most are honest, but when word spreads that So-and-So got away with this and Whatsisname's superiors looked the other way at that, the temptation to cheat could spread.

The department, the Board of Education and city and town school committees must make clear that cheating will bring severe penalties and a retest under fair conditions. Driscoll's refusal to call a spade a spade -- he'd insist that it's a personal dirt-removal tool -- is not encouraging.

The Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, Mass.
Thursday, February 24, 2000

MCAS: Stay the course
Teachers union fails to advance proficiency aim

It is disappointing that the state's largest teachers union has decided to ratchet up its campaign against the high-stakes testing program that is the benchmark of educational accountability.

Citing proposed changes in mathematics and history curriculums, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is pushing for a delay in the requirement that students pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests to qualify for a high school diploma.

"We're asking the kids to jump over the high bar on a single test," said Stephen Gorrie, MTA president.


The MCAS actually is a series of tests taken over several days, not "a single test." It was created as a yardstick by which all schools could measure their efforts, and independent analysis has validated the results.

The four MCAS score ranges -- advanced, proficient, passing, failing -- are intended to show strengths and weaknesses of students in English, math, science/technology and history.

Ideally, all students would finish high school with a "proficient" or "advanced" education.

But because this is a new measuring stick, the state Board of Education has set this "high bar" at its lowest possible level -- anything better than a "failing" score on the MCAS in 10th grade. Students who fail can try again in grades 11 and 12, in order to graduate with their peers.

Moreover, whatever changes occur in the math and history curriculums will not affect the MCAS scores of any students currently in high school and, according to Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll, even the changes for the class of 2005 and beyond will be limited as factors in the test.

After seven years and billions of dollars in funding increases for public schools, Massachusetts residents have a right to expect positive, measurable results. While not the only yardstick of performance for students and school systems, MCAS does provide a reliable, statewide measurement of whether children have built the foundation of knowledge and skills they will need to succeed.

The state Board of Education must stay with its decision to require passage of the test to qualify for a diploma, if that traditional certificate is to signify a meaningful standard of educational achievement.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

Return to CLT Updates page

Return to CLT home page