Tuesday, April 2, 2013

They call it racketeering for a reason

As Eugene Robinson noted yesterday, they call the crime "racketeering" for a reason. A racket is a fraudulent solution to a problem, a problem that may not actually exist. Generally, it's been organized crime that has brought people in on charges of racketeering, but this weekend saw a superintendent brought in on four charges, including racketeering, which together could give her up to 45 years in prison.

"Nice school you've got here. It'd be a shame if the test scores fell and something happened to it."

Michael Winerip outlines the lengths to which investigators--brought in by the state, mind you--had to go to break the racket of fraudulent test scores in Atlanta (I would highly recommend his coverage of this). The 96 pages of the indictment against 34 current and former Atlanta public school employees reads (as noted elsewhere) like something out of a crime novel.
But, as Valerie Strauss points out, Atlanta is just the one we know. There have been testing scandals across the country over the past several years, and not a single one has faced the level of scrutiny that  Atlanta has.

They should.

We are all about to change our evaluation systems for everyone--not just, as was done in Atlanta, the superintendent--to tie teachers, principals, just about everyone's evaluations to student test scores. Give a passing thought to just what sort of motivation that's going to give to everyone to raise the scores.

And raise them at any cost.

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