Monday, February 13, 2012

Raising the Stakes Causes Inflation

Joanne reports:

New York is looking into charges that credit recovery programs make it too easy for students to blow off schoolwork, earn credits for doing very little and pick up a diploma. Principals are evaluated based on graduation rates, providing an incentive to lower standards. (Students can earn P.E. credits online.) Read teachers’ comments on Gotham Schools. It’s not just a New York City thing. Teachers all over the country have been complaining about credit recovery.
It's a simple thing: when you threaten someone's job, they will react defensively. Sometimes you like the result and sometimes you won't.

I can't say I'm surprised to read that "They described how principals used credit recovery to boost their schools’ statistics and how students opted for it as an easier way to collect credits." What's a Highly Ineffective Principal to do?

"Principals are evaluated based on graduation rates, providing an incentive to lower standards."

I shouldn't even toss this into the HIPster line of posts because this is too depressing and I can't really laugh about it. 
Every time we raise the testing stakes, more cheating will result. While I expect teachers to be more honorable than bankers and hedge-fund operators, I assume they are subject to similar inducements and pressures. Just because teachers are not too big to fail doesn't make them immune from self-interest. Especially as no student suffers from getting a better score than he otherwise might have gotten. - Deborah Meier
As you raise the stakes ...

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