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Does “flawed” state testing system lead to cheating?

The five former or current El Paso Independent School District administrators facing federal charges this week are all accused of cheating the same testing system many superintendents claim is “flawed.”

The argument in favor of testing is that schools need a measurable way to ensure students are making progress make in school. But a lot of people think that’s creating pressure to cheat.

“We shouldn’t forget what was at the root of this,” Sen. Jose Rodriguez told ABC-7. “I don’t think it was inherently that these people were evil people.”

Rodriguez said the root of this week’s arrests in the EPISD cheating scandal can all be traced to a flawed state testing system.

“With regard to the principals and lower level administrators, they were obviously feeling pressure from the superintendent,” Rodriguez said. “So you now see what I think are good people, ensnared in this process. I think what it teaches us is that human nature is frail and that people can succumb to these kinds of pressures.”

ABC-7 also spoke with EPISD board trustee Susie Byrd.

“I really think what the whole scandal revealed to us is that the whole culture of the organization had been distorted by this simple sort of fixation on testing,” Byrd said. “It’s really so hard to dismantle that culture within the organization because for so long teachers, principals, administrators were judged based on those scores. If what we’re about is learning and teaching, this is the wrong system to get us there.”

Ysleta Teachers Association President Arlinda Valencia didn’t mince words when it came to what she thinks is to blame for the situation.

“I blame the test, totally,” Valencia said. “And I’ll tell you right now, it’s not going to get better.”

Valencia said she expects more testing scandals and arrests in the future.

“I have to blame the test because, if you take the test out of it, teachers would not need to cheat, administrators would not have to pressure teachers and superintendents would not have to pressure the administration,” Valencia said. “I’m not excusing any of what they did, it was wrong, and the majority of the teachers and administrators they play fair.”

Valencia said in the future the state will tie 20-percent of a teacher’s evaluation to standardized test scores, which she believes could lead not only more administrators to cheat, but teachers and students as well.

KVIA ABC-7

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