Test Cheating Scandal

By: Tonya Mead, CFE, CHFI, PI, MBA,MA Educational Psychology

Just when you think that test cheating is of a bygone era, think again. And as before, the guilty culprits are the educators and administrators, not the students.

Yesterday, students attending three of Britain’s top three boarding schools were given a” heads up about questions in upcoming test papers.” (1, line 1). These schools educate Britain’s wealthiest. The annual tuition ranges for  Eton College, Charterhouse and Winchester are from $41,000 to $47,000 equivalent U.S. dollars.

No longer is test cheating by educators confined to the poorest of public schools. Defenders of alleged educator cheaters in  Atlanta, District of Columbia, Philadelphia   in private used the soft racism of low expectation as rationale. Theorizing that the impoverished can not learn, do not want to learn, their parents do not care,  and reside in broken homes. What are the teachers to do?

And yet, the pool of performance bonuses look so enticing.

But the overriding motive in this situation, unlike the others stateside relate to prestige and competition. In Britain, educators were allowed to serve as test proctors setting up the potential for conflict of interest.

Educator Wrong doing and Motive

These three incidents of education cheating demonstrate once again that educators are human. Therefore, they are driven by rationale, opportunity, incentive (Fraud Triangle, Donald Cressey)  and capability (Fraud Diamond, David Wolfe). I have added another dimensional element, enforcement risk (Fraud Prism, Tonya Mead). These five elements are clearly on display.

Recommended Steps for increased Test Security

In the US, I have advocated for the following test security measures:

  1. Teachers of record should not test their own students
  2. Two adults should be present in the exam center (or an examiner in the physical space and a examiner viewing remotely)
  3. Students and teacher should sign a pledge of honesty before exam session
    Students, parents and teachers should be informed of the test integrity policy and the consequences
  4. Students, parents and teachers  should be told whom to report suspected behavior
  5. Administrators should share the responsibility and consequences for unethical behaviors
  6. School performance metrics should be negative impacted for substantiated findings of wrongdoing

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Tonya J. Mead, CFE, CHFI, PI, MBA, MA, Certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer and president of Shared Knowledge, LLC http://ishareknowledge.com

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