Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheaters Never Prosper — But They Want To

In the current issue of the New Yorker, reporter Rachel Aviv describes the calculated actions of a school that made the decision to help their students cheat — and not just on a simple math quiz, but a standardized test that would determine whether Parks Middle School in Georgia was performing at the level they were expected.

The students had no part in the cheating. However, it was a feeling of desperation that led teacher Damany Lewis, and others at the school like him, to help his students succeed in whatever way he could.
At the end of the testing week, Lewis went back to the testing office with Crystal Draper, a language-arts teacher. For about an hour, they erased wrong answers and bubbled in the right ones. They exchanged no words. Lewis couldn’t even look at her. “I couldn’t believe what we’d been reduced to,” he said.
While it may be easy to say that their cheating was completely in the wrong, it's not so easy to contemplate the struggle that many schools in the U.S. are facing in terms of standardized tests. Simply put, if a school is failing, teachers and faculty are let go. But, if a school increases their scores on the tests, they are offered rewards.
When a school met its targets, all employees, including bus drivers and cafeteria staff, received up to two thousand dollars. 
While the reward seems certainly enticing, the motivation for cheating in the case of Parks Middle School seemed less to do with money, and more to do with the refusal to let their students fail another year. It was with this hope of increased test scores that they cut open boxes and scribbled in the right answers.

There are many stories like this in the media, but rarely are we able to see the full story behind them. Aviv explores the motives behind the teachers, and never once paints them as people who wanted to simply cheat the system. At the same time, she uses this ten-page article to show that cheaters never truly prosper, even if they want to for all the right reasons.


At Prestwick House, cheating is always discouraged. Visit our vast collection of teaching units to help your students gain the knowledge they need for any test.

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