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KU testing expert shares thoughts on cheatin' teachers


KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little; Neal Kingston, director of KU's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation; and Rick Ginsberg, dean of KU's School of Education, are shown in this October 2010 file photo at the State Board of Education in Topeka.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little; Neal Kingston, director of KU's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation; and Rick Ginsberg, dean of KU's School of Education, are shown in this October 2010 file photo at the State Board of Education in Topeka. by Scott Rothschild

The Associated Press this past weekend (seen here in USA Today) broke down a pretty big cheating scandal that unfolded over the course of 15 years in the South, involving the tests that prospective public-school teachers take to qualify for their jobs. Prosecutors say a longtime teacher made himself tens of thousands of dollars from teachers (one of whom, allegedly, was a former NFL wide receiver) who paid him to send a ringer to take their qualifying exams for them.

For the story, the AP pretty extensively quoted (and pictured) KU testing guru Neal Kingston. Kingston is the director of the KU Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, and he leads a $22 million project that sprang from what is now the second-largest grant in KU history (now ranking behind this one) that aims to produce new testing systems for elementary and secondary-school students.

Kingston told the AP that cheating on tests — among college students or people trying to qualify for jobs or licenses — is on the rise in general, perhaps helped by technology that allows ever-more ways to cheat.

"People often don't see it as something wrong," Kingston said.

Don't forget to send your KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com, but ONLY if those tips are your own original work.


Pywacket 5 years, 5 months ago

Required testing is not perfect, but there have to be some way to measure what has been learned, what a student's abilities are, and so on. A huge amount of effort, by many dedicated and caring individuals, goes into formulating test questions and test delivery systems. They are not cobbled together and they are not formulated by "government" drones, if that's what you think.

They are written, edited, teacher reviewed, reworked if necessary, and vetted with the utmost care by professionals in the fields of education, special ed, psychology, and various other professional disciplines. Again--no one involved in this kind of work believes that such tests are perfect or infallible, but they are all doing their best to make them better all the time.

Teachers, researchers, and others look each test problem over for such things as grammar, logic, absence of cultural bias, accessibility (for students with special needs), and language level. These people work together to give kids the best chance possible to do their best.

It's easy to take a cheap shot and trash the work of people like Dr. Kingston and others; it's harder to take the time to learn something about the tremendous work that goes into creating and administering tests.

We've come lightyears since the WASP-centric, white-male-biased 50s- and 60s-era tests and they continue to improve all the time. I would encourage you to learn more about the work that's done behind the scenes before you categorically dismiss "government testing" as "evil."

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

They're working from the wrong paradigm. I'm not saying that tests have no value. Small tests - as part of regular course study. I'm just saying that the high stakes testing used for licensure needs to be reexamined. It's too tempting to cheat when all your entire career rests on your test score. Functional portfolios and alternative assessments are harder to fake and more valuable for assessing the true potential of an employee.

Likewise, the high stakes testing of elementary students needs to be reexamined. I hear in Finland, they spend two years studying assessment to get their teaching license. And I don't mean bubble tests. I mean they study alternative assessment of student skills without having to constantly give them sit-down tests and drills.

I hope that's the sort of thing they're thinking about in their group.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

Matt, I would encourage you to please compose a part II to this story.
this one barely scrapes the surface details. it left me wanting much more detail.
what are some of the new techno cheat methods, for example?
more detail on cheating. KU's troubles with plagerism might be another useful angle? what about those people who actually think they're not doing anything wrong, tell me more.

there's just a sample Matt.


chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

The testing scandal was in the South.

merickson 5 years, 5 months ago

Hi there, bearded_gnome — I'll agree that a look at how KU works to prevent cheating by students would be interesting. I'll file that idea away.

As for this particular story about the teacher cheating scandal, I'd recommend clicking on that USA Today link to learn more. And here's a blog entry from earlier this year that mentions a conference regarding test fraud that Neal Kingston helped organize at KU:

(That includes another link, to a Chronicle of Higher Ed story about cheating in online classes, that requires a subscription to read.)



bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

thanksfor the start Matt.

choot=captain obvious.

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