AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, AFT members support increased accountability, when it is based on valid indicators and reliable measures of what students know and are able to do. We support rigorous academic standards for students backed by meaningful curricula; valid and reliable measures of student learning that are aligned with the standards; and teacher and administrator evaluation systems that include—but are not limited to—appropriately weighted student test scores. We hold our students to the highest levels of academic integrity and we expect the same for ourselves and our profession.

WHEREAS, students, parents and our democracy deserve an education system that values learning and development over test-prep and the limited outcomes standardized tests measure—a system that values and listens to the teachers who work everyday with our students.

WHEREAS, in schools across the country decisions are being made about student and teacher effectiveness and school performance, based primarily on the results of standardized*, large-scale assessments. Administrators, principals and teachers are threatened with termination, schools are marked for closure and students are fearful of being held back or denied a diploma. In the current age of accountability, officials at all levels have created a system that values test-prep and test driven decision-making over learning. Such a system, where success is defined narrowly or in terms of test score gains alone, will, at minimum, invite exaggerated claims and, at worst, encourage corruption.

WHEREAS, there are investigations and examples of, and opportunities for, cheating or tampering with tests—or ignoring cheating or tampering—at the teacher, principal, district administrator and state levels. Test tampering is a system problem and not a teacher problem. Our over-reliance on standardized test scores has created a lose-lose environment where teachers, principals and administrators at all levels of the system are feeling immense pressure to perform well on a single measure, instead of focusing on what matters most: what children are learning as indicated by a system of multiple measures and individualized instruction.

WHEREAS, some cheating and test tampering is willful and premeditated while other actions are unintentional violations of testing policies and rules.

WHEREAS, educators who know of cheating or test tampering are often the first to alert officials at the school and/or district levels, but often their concerns have been ignored.

WHEREAS, the vast majority of teachers follow the established testing procedures, and have been calling for support and due diligence from officials to investigate testing violations in a timely and open manner.

WHEREAS, we must support and rely on teachers—the vast majority of whom are honest and effective—to be the first line of defense against test tampering and cheating. We must provide them with an accountability system that does not rely almost exclusively on a single quantitative measure such as a test score; a learning environment where integrity and ethics are as important as performance; and a school culture free of fear, intimidation, and retaliation.

Therefore be it RESOLVED,

  • As a profession we do not condone cheating or test tampering by anyone under any circumstances.
  • Every state should reexamine their testing security, test administration and reporting procedures to ensure they can withstand the additional weights being placed on them by current accountability and test-based decision-making policies; and that local districts have the capacity and resources to implement these heightened procedures and policies.
  • Every state should develop a transparent procedure communicated to all individuals involved with testing, including teachers, to annually identify statistically irregular patterns of test answers using several statistical techniques that may reveal cheating (e.g., erasure analysis, similar score analysis, unusual gain score analysis, aberrant or unusual response patterns and others), to augment other detection methods already in use.
  • States should reduce the weight for student achievement growth in current and prospective teacher evaluation policies, and replace them with measures that are less susceptible to cheating and more relevant to the spectrum of student learning.
  • States should draft specific procedures for conducting state and school district investigations into cheating to ensure that sanctions and corrective actions are fair, expeditious, equitable and consistently uniform across the state.
  • States should investigate all cheating detected through statistical analysis—or complaints about cheating and security plan violations—brought directly to state or municipal authorities by parents, teachers and other educators.
  • Different standardized tests have different purposes and follow different procedures. All educators—not just principals or test administrators—should have access to, and an understanding of the test administration and security procedures. This should include:

    • who to contact if procedures are not followed or test materials have been tampered with;
    • particularities of the test being administered; and
    • appropriate accommodations, if any, for individual students or student groups.
  • For each test administered, provide regular training for all classroom teachers, administrators and school staff who are involved with test administration. This training should feature what constitutes acceptable test preparation; what constitutes test tampering; a clear statement of the consequences for violating testing procedures; and clear directions about how to report cheating to the school district, or state, rather than reporting to principals.
  • Teachers should not grade their students’ standardized tests.
  • Local union affiliates should remain diligent about test security and administration procedures, and regularly communicate with members on what is acceptable test administration behavior, and what is not. Affiliates should also inform members on what to do if they see violations.
  • Local affiliates should become strong advocates for test integrity and provide due process for members accused of test tampering or cheating. Local affiliates should add whistle-blower protection language to the contract, possibly clarifying the interaction with state law and school district policy. The union should be the whistle-blower working on behalf of the members.
  • All teachers, regardless of status (probationary or tenured) should be assured whistle-blower protection for reporting instances of suspected test tampering of cheating through adequately resourced state laws.
  • Any educator accused of cheating or test tampering is entitled to due process and any teacher found innocent of the charges should have their record expunged of the allegation.

And finally, be it RESOLVED that:

  • As we move to the next generation of Common Core State Assessments, we call on test developers and states to ensure that performance-based assessments, and standardized tests when used, more accurately reflect student learning by providing multiple measures of progress and success. Such measures will not only be less subject to tampering and improve accountability for the education system but, most importantly, will support the deeper learning that teachers and the public want for our children.

* Standardized tests are tests that are developed, administered and reported in the same (or standardized) way. The test questions, format, instructions, time limit, scoring and reporting are the same for all test-takers, with some exceptions for students with certain disabilities or limited English language proficiency.