Public, Schmublic: Camden’s State Takeover and NJ’s Abbott Preschool ProgramApril 4, 2013
Sunday LeftoversApril 7, 2013
Jon Chait explains that reacting to the Atlanta test cheating scandal by blaming teacher incentives based on high-stakes tests is “perverse” and illogical:
Incentivizing any field increases the impetus to cheat. Suppose journalism worked the way teaching traditionally had. You get hired at a newspaper, and your advancement and pay are dictated almost entirely by your years on the job, with almost no chance of either becoming a star or of getting fired for incompetence. Then imagine journalists changed that and instituted the current system, where you can get really successful if your bosses like you or be fired if they don’t. You could look around and see scandal after scandal — phone hacking! Jayson Blair! NBC’s exploding truck! Janet Cooke! Stephen Glass! — that could plausibly be attributed to this frightening new world in which journalists had an incentive to cheat in order to get ahead.
It holds true of any field. If Major League Baseball instituted tenure, and maybe used tee-ball rules where you can’t keep score and everybody gets a chance to hit, it could stamp out steroid use. Students have been cheating on tests forever — massive, systematic cheating, you could say. Why? Because they have an incentive to do well. Give teachers and administrators an incentive for their students to do well, and more of them will cheat.