The Dark Side of Assessment and Accountability

Compensation always seems to have effects on behavior. This is true when compensation is used as a motivation tool to reward excellent performance.

But compensation can have a dark side, too.

Sadly, it reared its ugly head when teachers and administrators – in an effort to show how well their students were performing – elected to cheat on standardized test scores.

Check out the New York Times article (among hundreds of others) that reports what happened in Atlanta today – curiously . . . on April Fools’ Day!

High standardized test scores were supposed to indicate good performance – translated in educational terms – that students were performing well in schools.

The need to show excellent results and ultimately to demonstrate excellent performance as teachers and as administrators of schools led multiple teachers/administrators in Atlanta to cheat.

Now they are paying the price – and, perhaps, we can learn from the dark side of using standardized test scores as a measurement of success.

I certainly hope so.


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