Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The findings of the state report: Widespread cheating occurred in administering the 2009 test.

"Superintendent Beverly Hall and her senior staff knew, or should have known, that cheating and offenses were occurring," stated the report. "We found cheating in 44 of the 56 schools we examined (78.6 percent). There were 38 principals of those 56 schools (67.9 percent) found to be responsible for, or directly involved in, cheating."

The cheating was deliberate and in some schools coordinated. "Teachers and administrators erased students' incorrect answers after the test was given and filled in the correct answers."

This was not a case where a few random teachers provided extra help to a favorite student or two. This involved, in some cases, groups of teachers and principals, and planning and coordination -- resources that should have been spent on teaching students, not attempting to rig test results.

"The changing of answers by teachers and administrators was, in some cases, so sophisticated that plastic transparency answer sheets were created to make changing the test answers sheets easier," the report says.

After listing details about the individual schools, the report attempts to address the why of the cheating. Why would teachers and principals who were supposed to be focusing on teaching children focus, instead, on falsifying student achievement? Why were they setting up their children to fail?

The report concluded that there were three primary reasons:

"The targets set by the district were often unrealistic ..."

"A culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation spread throughout the district ..."

And, "Dr. Hall and her administration emphasized test results and public praise to the exclusion of integrity and ethics."

The report went on to note that this pressure to cheat must have built over the years. Test scores were based on prior years' test results. "After a few years of increases," noted the report, "teachers found the targets unattainable and resorted to cheating."

Unattainable targets, according to the report, led to cheating by teachers and administrators. Just imagine how the children in the schools felt. Not given the instruction necessary by their teachers because their prior year's performance was artificially inflated, but led to believe that the only way to get the results desired was to cheat.

It was the children who were cheated, led to believe that the end was more important than the means of getting there.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.