I feel like a cheater!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bewlove, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Mar 10, 2015

    I feel so bad. I feel like I cheated on something, but it wasn't intentional!

    My students are taking their benchmark test today. This morning, I was flipping through the test to see if I had covered the information on there so far. I had taught all of it, but there were a couple of questions that were definitely formatted in a different way than I had taught it. So, as part of my morning bellringer, I included some similarly formatted (but not the same) questions. My kids seemed to do fine with them during the bellringer, and most got them right on the test. I didn't think anything of it until later, when I was mentioning to another teacher what I had done to help review their skills prior to taking the test. She then informed me that we weren't really supposed to do that and that she would advise against it because that is sort of skewing the results.

    Now, I would never ever DREAM of doing that on the state test! I know we aren't allowed to do anything at all with those when it comes to giving hints or helping students or anything. But, this wasn't meant to be dishonest! I was just trying to help prepare my students and make sure that they knew what to expect.

    Now I feel awful and like I cheated. I know it was just a couple of questions, but I feel like my kid's scores aren't accurate. Could they have done that if I hadn't prompted them this morning? Anyway....please tell me I'm not a dishonest person!!!! That wasn't my intention but I just feel like a liar and a cheat. :(
     
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  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 10, 2015

    I don't know...I personally think that if the goal is "backward design," then we should absolutely know what the end goal is (the assessment) and make sure students have been given a chance to practice the way they will be assessed. This doesn't mean we should be doing endless drills or "Teaching to the test," but if districts are going to give you benchmarks, I think you should be given them in advance and give your students practice that is aligned to the assessment. It's not cheating, it's good instructional design.
     
  4. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Mar 10, 2015

    You said they did well with the new format when you showed it to them, so it sounds like they new the material well enough that most of them would have gotten it on the test regardless. I wouldn't feel bad about it -- you want your students to succeed. And I agree with ms.irene -- it's just good instruction. You're teaching them what they need to know to do well.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 10, 2015

    In my district this would be considered a testing irregularity. Not only would the results likely be invalidated, but the teacher may even be in danger of losing his or her teaching license.

    Do you have a testing handbook? We do, and ours says over and over that we are not allowed to look at the test, take the test, make copies of the test, correct the test, or do anything else with the test.
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 10, 2015

    In my state, you would have cheated and every student's test would be invalidated. You could also lose your teaching certificate. Teachers are not allowed to look at any part of the test before, during, and after the testing process.

    I hope things work out well for you.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 10, 2015

    Just to be sure, this was a district benchmark, not a state test, correct? I don't know how it is in your district, but in my last school, we were all involved in writing and developing our benchmark tests. If it's supposed to be top-secret, then no, I wouldn't "cheat" and look at the format.

    It does bring up the issue though that if students are being asked to do things on the assessment that they haven't seen before, then you are essentially testing them on how well they take tests, not on what they really know and can do. Even on our new state tests, we are supposed to have access to sample questions and materials so students have a chance to practice being assessed the way they will be assessed on the new tests.

    Again, though, if your district has it set up that the benchmarks are top-secret and hands-off, then I wouldn't risk getting in trouble, but I do also think it's not a well-designed assessment if there are items that are structured in a way that students are not familiar with.
     
  8. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Mar 10, 2015

    Was this an official standardized test? I'm thrown by the word "benchmark" and everyone's reactions. In my state, benchmarks are district-created and NBD at all. Heck, I usually tear the test into 2 parts and give it as classwork over a couple days. It's not the same as our SOL tests, which have procedures, irregularities, etc.

    ETA because Ms. Irene and I had the same thoughts: ditto on helping to develop benchmarks in my area. I wrote about 1/4 of our last benchmark, so def knew the questions beforehand.
     
  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 10, 2015

    I may have misunderstood. If this was a district benchmark test, I wouldn't worry about it. My original answer was if the test was the state assessment.
     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 10, 2015

    This was actually a battle I had to fight in my last school, where I was teaching a "program" with "consultants" who would bring us in their own "benchmarks" which were incredibly poorly written. I had to fight to get to be involved in writing them because I had students failing just because they were so badly designed. I hope this isn't the case for the OP!
     
  11. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Mar 10, 2015

    Thanks everyone! It was a benchmark, to be used as a teaching tool. We are allowed to review it with the class after completing it. It in no way alters their/my scores overall for the year. I know not to do this with our big state test. This just provides a reflection of where they would be on the state test.

    I just wanted them to be prepared :(
     
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Mar 10, 2015

    It would not be a problem at all in the district I work at. District benchmarks are to be used by the teacher as they see fit.
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2015

    At my school, where we design our own benchmark tests for teaching's sake only, you would have been just fine. We have specific rules for administering the test, but we're encouraged to review the test and make sure it's inline with our teaching.

    Now, if your specific rules say "no looking through the test" you're in trouble. But it doesn't sound to be that kind of case.
     
  14. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Mar 10, 2015

    Thanks everyone. That's the thing--- if there are specific rules, then I don't know them. Maybe it should have been common sense. Like I've said, I know these scores don't count in the long run and are a projection for our state testing. That's why I didn't think anything of throwing a couple of similar questions out there to prep them.

    The thing is, this is not a county benchmark. It's given to us through an organization. We still have a county benchmark, too, but both serve the same purpose: to be a tool for instruction. So I'm not sure if the fact that it wasn't created by my district would change anything.

    Anyway, I'm never ever ever ever ever EVER doing it again!!!!! I have learned my lesson and I just hope I don't get penalized. :( I haven't announced it or anything, but you never know.
     
  15. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Mar 10, 2015

    I wouldn't give this a second thought since it was not a state assessment. Don't stress it.
     

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