The revelation that more than 80 Atlanta teachers admitted to cheating on state standardized tests–with one group of elementary teachers even holding a “party” after school to change their pupils’ answers by hand–has rocked the education reform movement.
But one question has been left unanswered: Why would a teacher resort to cheating in the first place?
The Notebook blog has found a Philadelphia teacher willing to explain why she helped her 11th-grade English students cheat on the state’s standardized tests. (The blog earlier broke the story that Pennsylvania officials suspected cheating may have occurred in 60 state schools.)
The teacher, who remains anonymous in the story, says she began to help her students cheat because she worried their self-esteem was crushed by taking tests they were in no way academically prepared for. If a student asked a question during one of the eight yearly testing periods, she would help him or her find the right answer, or occasionally just point to it on the exam.
“I never went to any student who didn’t call me to help them cheat,” said the teacher. “But if somebody asked me a question, I wasn’t willing to say, ‘Just do your best.’ They were my students, and I wanted to be there for them.”
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