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How Public Schools Lie to Parents and Betray Our Children
Under the “No Child Left Behind Act”, public schools whose students consistently fail standardized tests can now be closed. To protect their jobs, teachers and principals are now under intense pressure to cheat – to tamper with test scores and report cards in order to deceive parents and school administrators.
How do public schools cheat parents? Joel Turtel, author of the new book, “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie to Parents and Betray Our Children,” lists some of the ways public schools can “cheat”:
1. Poor students are excluded or discouraged from taking the tests.
2. Teachers assign tests as homework or teach test items in class.
3. Test security is minimal to non-existent.
4. Students have more time than allowed by test regulations.
5. Unrealistic and highly unlikely improvements from test to test are not audited or investigated.
6. Teachers and administrators are not punished for gross violations of testing procedures.
7. Test results are reported in a way that exaggerates achievement levels.
(from Myron Lieberman’s book, “Public Education: An Autopsy”)
In December 1999, a special investigation of New York City schools found that two principals and dozens of teachers and assistants were helping students cheat on standardized math and reading tests.
Andrew J. Coulson, in his brilliant book, “Market Education: The Unknown History,” cites an example of how public schools deliberately lie to parents about their children’s academic abilities:
“Constantly greeted with As’s and B’s on their children’s report cards, parents at Zavala Elementary School had been lulled into complacency, believing that the school and its students were functioning well. In fact, Zavala was one of the worst schools in the district. , and its students ranked near the bottom on statewide standardized tests. When a new principal took the helm and demanded that statewide scores be read out at a PTA meeting, parents were appalled at their children’s abysmal performance and furious with teachers and school officials for misleading them with inflated grades.
In 1992, the scientific journal Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice published the results of a national survey of teacher cheating. Janie Hall and Paul Kleine, the authors of the report, asked 2,256 public school teachers, principals, superintendents and test supervisors if their colleagues cheated on tests. Forty-four percent of respondents said yes. Additionally, 55% of teachers surveyed said they were aware of many of their fellow teachers changing student answers, teaching specific parts of tests before tests, and giving hints to students during tests. Today, the pressure on teachers and principals to cheat is even greater due to the No Child Left Behind law.
In 1990, three academics, Harold Stevenson, Chuansheng Chen, and David Uttal conducted a study on the attitudes and academic achievement of black, white, and Hispanic children in Chicago. They found a disturbing discrepancy between what parents thought their children were learning and how well the children actually performed. Teachers in very poor schools had given students A’s for work that would have earned them C’s or D’s in well-to-do suburban schools.
In the study, black mothers of elementary school students in Chicago rated their child’s skills and abilities quite high and felt that their children were doing well in reading and math. The children thought the same. Unfortunately, the researchers found that parents’ and children’s self-ratings of their math and reading skills were well above their actual achievement levels.
There was a big gap between their upbeat self-assessments and their dismal academic performance on independent tests. Public schools gave these children a false idea of their level of academic ability. In other words, these kids were headed for failure and no one bothered to tell them.
Parents would not be wise to trust the claims of teachers or school authorities regarding their children’s supposed academic abilities, even in so-called “good” schools in suburban neighborhoods. Parents should have an independent outside company test their child’s reading and math skills to find out how they are really doing. If parents find that their child’s academic skills are well below what their local public school has led them to believe, they may want to remove their child from public school and seek better education alternatives.
The Resources section in “Public Schools, Public Threat” shows parents many great and inexpensive education options for their children, such as new Internet private schools, learning computer software just for kids, and teaching home. Turtel’s book and website, http://www.mykidsdeservebetter.com, also lists many reading and math skills testing companies that parents can use to determine the true reading and math skills of their children. children.
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