The wrong lesson on cheating

April 1, 2014 

When a student is caught cheating on a test, the penalty might be a zero on the test, a zero for the course or even expulsion, depending on the school.

But when 11 students said a Highland teacher had them cheat on the ISAT, the teacher got a slap on the wrist. "The Board of Education concluded that these deficiencies are sufficient reason and cause for your dismissal as a teacher in this district if you do not correct and remediate them immediately," the board stated in a letter to the unidentified teacher.

We don't understand. Board members not only believe the teacher encouraged students to cheat but that the teacher was not truthful with the board, so why keep the teacher? How does this person function effectively in the classroom given this incident and his or her lack of credibility?

The district's investigation is being forwarded to the Illinois State Board of Education, but don't hold your breath waiting for the state to act. In May 2012, in response to a freedom of information request, the state board said just one teacher had his certification suspended for cheating on a state test. "Other cases of alleged testing misconduct remain under investigation or were closed with no certification action," the state wrote at the time.

In the high-stakes world of student testing, teachers have a lot to gain by cheating to raise test scores. But apparently teachers in Illinois have little to lose if they get caught. What a sad lesson to teach our children.

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