News broke in 2008 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution that a potential cheating scandal had surfaced within the Atlanta Public School System. The investigation continued until 2011, when it was released that numerous teachers and principals did, in fact, change the answers of the students’ Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). The trial for 178 teacher and principals in question began in early August of this year.
Francesca Taylor, director of Learning Support and Testing at the University of West Georgia, was recently elected as President of The National College Testing Association (NCTA). Taylor oversees testing for students with documented disabilities, e-Core students and entry-level college exams.
“At our level, the college level, what often happens is that students conscientiously make the decision to cheat,” said Taylor. “And they do it for a number of reasons. They’re afraid of the low grade, if they don’t pass they’re going to be kicked out of school, they think everyone is doing it and that’s what they have to do in order to compete.”
UWG has taken additional steps to decrease the chances of cheating. Students are encouraged to read and adhere to the Academic Honor Code, which states that students are expected to maintain a high level of academic honesty and avoid cheating and plagiarism. All UWG professors also include the Honor Code as a part of their syllabus. Other precautions UWG professors take include: no bottled drinks on desks, all bags at the front of the room and no cell phones. For online classes, professors are starting to require lockdown browsers for students to take exams.
It has been an argument for years that colleges and universities should ban college entry exams like the SAT and ACT because of the unfair advantages. Some parents and even educators claim that wealthier students do better because they can afford tutors. Students are pressured to excel on a test that cannot be studied for with information they have probably never seen. Others say that students should be judged based solely on their academic achievements.
“The SAT or ACT and other scores like that do provide a level playing field in the sense that everybody is getting the opportunity to show with the same content what they know and what they don’t,” Taylor said.
Though testing policies have become stricter over the years, testing will still be necessary. There is no other way to judge a student, potential teacher or perspective lawyer’s abilities without an entrance exam. Even students at UWG may have to take exams to see if they need remedial courses to get on track for graduation.