By now, many parents have heard of the Atlanta cheating scandal that involved teachers, principals and the superintendent of schools–nearly 200 employees physically changing answers on bubble tests.

I see the problem as twofold. First parents can’t allow this to get swept under the rug. Cheating is cheating, and it’s illegal and sends the wrong message to the kids. LAUSD can’t allow cheating on the test, not accidentally, not intentionally, and the district has to take a very strong stance on it. They can’t come out against it, and waffle later as they have with the Crescendo schools. Yes, closing the schools would affect the kids, but it would send a strong message to anyone even tempted to cheat.

But conversely, parents are responsible too. When I see parents trying to get their kids into a “10”-rated school versus a school that’s “only” a 9 or an 8, without ever having seen the inside of any of them, I cringe. As the district moves toward test scores being part of the teacher evaluation equation, parents need to step up. Parents have to understand that test scores are PART of what makes a great school. Not everything that a teacher does shows up on the test. Frankly, there are things to me that are more important than teaching what’s on the test: character, creativity, and a passion for learning. Teachers can spend the entire year teaching what has proven to be on the test in prior years, or they can teach drama, do projects, and provide an atmosphere that allows students to grow both in the classroom and outside it.

Testing is PART of an equation, and LAUSD has designs on making it a bigger part. Parents need to stay vigilant that we aren’t sold an evaluation system that’s riddled with flaws or given a system that has such high stakes that cheating becomes inevitable.

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