Earning Better Scores The Old Fashioned Way

Ms. Frizzle wants you to know that the test scores have improved at schools in her neighborhood. More importantly, she wants you to notice that the rise has come over a five year period. She makes a very good point. Real school improvement takes time (and hard work).

Or it takes dishonesty and a whole lot of chutzpah of the type practiced by the administrators at one elementary school in DC. The number of kids scoring in the highest two categories on the Stanford 9 math test went from 49 to 88 percent. The reading scores jumped even more from 50 to 91.5 percent. In one year! With very little changed at the school! DC school administrators, of course, found no signs of cheating on the tests. Until the following year when the test scores dropped like an anvil in a Road Runner cartoon to below their previous levels.

This isn’t the last we’ll see of Enron-style accounting in high stakes testing. The more pressure there is to dramatically improve test scores over the short run (like before the next election), the more likely it is that someone will fudge the numbers.