No tolerance for cheating

March 10, 2014 

The Highland School District has, sadly, made us broaden our image of test cheaters.

In the past when we heard allegations of a teacher helping students cheat on state standardized tests, we assumed it would be at a poor-performing school that was desperately trying to improve its image. Past cheating allegations in East St. Louis School District 189 spring to mind.

That changed last week when Highland Superintendent Michael Sutton announced that he's investigating allegations that a teacher helped students cheat on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. This is a district where students' test scores are well above the state average.

Give Sutton credit for publicly acknowledging the investigation rather than trying to keep it secret or worse, looking the other way.

Still, it's unsettling that anyone would do this. People tend to measure the success or failure of public schools based on the standardized test results and the school report cards released each year. Situations like this can cast suspicion on the test results from entire schools or districts.

Sutton should report his findings as quickly as possible, to the public as well as the Illinois State Board of Education. If cheating occurred, people need to know when it happened, how many tests were tainted and what will be done to prevent the problem in the future.

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