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Cheating on School Tests

October 02, 1988

Your "Losers All Around" (editorial, Sept. 10) raised an important issue--that to convince the public they are doing their jobs, educators place much emphasis on standardized tests. These tests accept one and only one correct answer per question. The results, published in local newspapers, do indeed compare one school with another, one school district with another district.

To deliberately erase an incorrect answer and substitute the correct one could certainly be called cheating.

Is it also cheating to monitor such a test and quietly point to an incorrect answer and whisper, "Read this again"?

Is it also cheating to teach intensive "test preparation" sent from the district's testing office and then realize that the district-prepared materials exactly mimicked the real test you were administering?

Your editorial rather sanctimoniously states that finding the guilty parties might have cut the losses. I'm afraid those with guilt on their hands would fill our largest public facilities if we did find them.

Are we really certain we want to measure the quality of education we entrust our schools to give with a "right answer"-only standardized test? Perhaps this cheating incident has other lessons to teach.

TAM LIPSON

Long Beach

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