Archive for February 11, 2010

Teachers cheating on student tests

The Atlanta Journal Constitution did a big analysis (ala Freakonomics) last year about possible cheating on the statewide high-stakes testing program.  This year, the state department of education is finding evidence that the cheating is widespread.

When the stakes get high enough (e.g., teacher merit pay linked to student performance on those tests), the incentive to cheat becomes enormous.  I wonder what role education research can play in this.  Can we create more opportunities to learn, more teaching methods, more options to improve learning (and bring up scores) of low-performing students?  How do we release the pressure on these teachers so that cheating doesn’t look like the only way out?

One in five Georgia public schools faces accusations of tampering with student answers on last spring’s state standardized tests, officials said Wednesday, throwing the state’s main academic measure into turmoil. The Atlanta district is home to 58 of the 191 schools statewide that are likely to undergo investigations into potential cheating. Another 178 schools will probably see new test security mandates, such as stepped-up monitoring during testing. The findings singled out 69 percent of Atlanta elementary and middle schools — far more than any other district — as needing formal probes into possible tampering.

via Suspicious test scores widespread in state  |

February 11, 2010 at 10:55 am 5 comments

The Role of Indian Films in Promoting Computing Careers

Thanks to Sarita Yardi for pointing out this fascinating paper from Joyojeet Pal now at University of Washington, Seattle.  The question is whether Indian films influence students’ interest in computing and technology there.  I find fascinating that the study goes on to interview the filmmakers — are they trying to promote technology?  My read of the paper suggests that the filmmakers are more trying to reflect the values they already see in the society, rather than trying to mold and shape those values.

“Our starting point in this research is the outcomes of 196 interviews
among rural Indians with no primary experience with technology, but a
great deal of enthusiasm about using or training their children to use
computers. We found that this enthusiasm about technology was
primarily based on secondary sources of information, a large part
of which was cinematic representation of computers and computer
users in local movies. Investigating this in popular Indian film, we
find a visible positive and highly aspirational discourse of
technology both in the representation of technology users and the
artifacts themselves, such as laptops or the internet, a trend
particularly evident on comparison with western cinema. To
discuss the issue of intentionality in this trend, we interview
leading filmmakers in India and find that unconscious absorption
of social aspiration into the scripting, and significant intent into
the use of computers and computer users as symbols of modernity
that filmmakers feel Indian audiences respond positively to.”

February 11, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

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