Monday, April 2, 2012

An example of corruption around test scores

Some say corruption does not exist around test scores, below is an example from that clearly shows it does.

Teachers are bribing pupils with pizza nights and fiddling test results to help their schools secure exam success, a survey has found.

Almost 40 per cent admitted the ‘overwhelming pressure’ to ensure that pupils achieve good grades ‘could compromise their professionalism’.

The poll, by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, reveals the lengths that schools are prepared to go to in order to climb league tables.

A quarter of respondents said they gave pupils ‘rewards and incentives’ to work harder. One teacher cited organising ‘pizza nights’.

In addition, 28 per cent said they felt obliged to attend controversial exam board seminars.

The admission follows an undercover newspaper investigation that found some teachers paid up to £230 a day to attend seminars with chief examiners, during which they were advised on exam questions and even the wording pupils should use to get higher marks.

One state secondary school teacher told ATL: ‘I know of an exam meeting where it was strongly hinted which topics would come up in the exam. I was glad my school was there but I felt sorry for those that were not.’

Another said: ‘We don’t go to many exam seminars because we can’t afford it. We probably lose out to those who can.’

The union surveyed 512 teachers, lecturers and headteachers working in state-funded and independent primary and secondary schools, academies and colleges in England ahead of its annual conference, which begins in Manchester today.

Some admitted fiddling exam scores. A primary school teacher said: ‘I have been forced to manipulate results so that levels of progress stay up.’

A secondary school teacher added: ‘The school I work at definitely pushes the boundaries of exam integrity. Maintaining their “gold-plated” status takes precedence over developing the abilities of the pupils.

‘Controlled assessments and aspects of coursework are problem areas for cheating, with senior leadership driving the agenda.’

A grammar school teacher said: ‘In some cases I end up virtually re-writing my students’ homework to match the marking criteria, rather than teach them my subject, French. I do this because there is simply not time to do both.’

Eighty-eight per cent of those polled said the pressure to get pupils through exams prevented the teaching of a broad and balanced curriculum, while 73 per cent claimed it had a detrimental effect on the quality of teaching. Seventy-one per cent said it affected the standard of learning.

In addition, one teacher warned that pupils are ‘close to breakdown’ with the demands being put on them during out-of-school hours and the Easter holidays.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL’s general secretary, said: ‘With the Government’s persistent focus on tests, exam results and league tables, many teachers and lecturers also feel under enormous pressure – often to the detriment of high-quality teaching, learning and development of pupils.

‘School league tables, school banding and Ofsted inspections undermine the curriculum and do nothing to support pupils and their hard-working teachers, lecturers and leaders.’

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