Home > Uncategorized > Cheating, High Stakes Testing, and the Winning at All Costs Ethos are Interrelated.

Cheating, High Stakes Testing, and the Winning at All Costs Ethos are Interrelated.

July 19, 2018

Anyone who advocates the use of high stakes tests should read a recently posted article by Medium blogger Gustavo Razzetti titled “America Has a Cheating Crisis (Why Leaders Should Worry About It)”.

In the article, Mr. Razzetti describes how cheating undercuts the norms in a culture and offers compelling evidence that cheating, high stakes testing, and the winat-all-costs ethos that permeates our culture are linked. After describing the work done by Freakonomics writers Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in examining cheating in Chicago schools, Mr. Razzetti concludes:

Cheating is a byproduct of high-performance cultures.

Measuring people by goals or achievements makes everyone focus on winning at all costs. Self-interest and the need for self-protection drive employees. People will do whatever it takes to win or survive…

Endless ambition justifies all means; cheating becomes self-reinforcing — we take shortcuts to win. When financial goals are the one and only metric, companies ask little questions about how things get done.

Mr. Razzetti then offers two consequences to the individual that result from adopting an ethos based on “endless ambition”, an ethos that ultimately compels individuals to cut corners in hopes of “victory”:

When you cheat, the first person that you fool is yourself.

When you cheat, your win won’t last forever — the aftermath will.

He concludes his essay with a well reasoned argument that “carrots and sticks”, the underlying theory behind high-stakes testing, inevitably results in cheating which, in turn, ultimately results in an erosion of personal and societal ill-being. Mr. Mazzetti urges readers to draw on their own resources to avoid fooling oneself and suffering the aftermath of cheating. I would advocate a change to the system by abandoning high stakes tests that are driving the cheating by creating a “high-performance culture” ultimately based on financial goals as the one and only metric.




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