Friday, December 31, 2004

Teachers who cheat

A really disturbing story about Houston elementary schools that may have cheated at TAKS tests. If true, it's a spectacular scandal since these are poor urban schools nationally celebrated for recording high achievement scores.

One detail struck me: the Dallas Morning News started digging when they noticed wildly fluctuating test scores, then gathered witness accounts to confirm. Until that point, no adult had ever come forward. But people knew. Things had looked suspicious to teachers at other schools, and teachers who later taught the high-scoring students soon realized they weren't that smart. And everyone just shrugged their shoulders. Unbelievable.

Finally, this is an example I think of the unique value of local newspapers. I know James Lileks has written it many times, (none of which I can find and link to) but there's no reason to pick up a paper for national or international news. I've already seen 10 updates online or on TV. But the delving into regional stories -- that's the role for a newspaper. It's the benefit that consumers can't get anywhere else. It's also a service since the Houston school district would not now be starting their own investigation if not for the DMN's findings. Well done.

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