CORE WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2
Core Writing Assignment #2
Focus Inquiry II – 112
Virginia Commonwealth University
Rachel Aviv’s article Wrong Answer presents an overall complex, yet necessary question: should teachers or other figures have the initial right to change student’s wrong answers on the SAT and ACT’S? This question basically has many alternatives based on various situations. In a moral sense teachers changing false answers to correct answers is cheating and should be prohibited. The teachers had no right to do this, even if it benefitted both the children and the school itself. However, in an ethical sense I believe the teachers were just trying to be good people and help but it only backfired on both them and the school. Yet in the end, I honestly believe the teachers should have never tampered with the tests in the first place. Cheating has become an increasingly common issue as we usher in the younger generations of students. Many argue differently, however, due to the increased amount of standardized testing. Yet, should test scores determine the future of students? In this situation Aviv tends to side more to yes, test scores shouldn’t decide the fate of a student or even the school – even when she knows that cheating is not morally right.
Wrong Answer, by Rachel Aviv, is a narrative story about a school and its faculty where the majority of students are underprivileged and do not perform well in the academic environment. She informs us of the dishonest methods in which the faculty tried to make the school meet the goals to be a satisfactory school as described by the No Child Left Behind Act. Aviv tells the story of the Atlanta cheating scandal through the ideas of one man, one teacher, who cared deeply about his students. This however was his downfall for he got sucked into the data-driven obsession with correcting test scores, thinking that if he raised the student’s tests scores, it would be a victimless crime. The question is, why do students and teachers cheat on the SAT and ACTs? In Khadaroo’s article SAT Cheating Scandal: Are Stakes Getting Too High for College Admission? a student also underestimated the system regarding cheating. According to a news release by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (2011) she reported that six students are facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly paying Samuel Eshaghoff, a well-educated student, up to $2,500 to take SAT and ACT tests for them. All these students, including Eshaghoff, now are suffering the consequences for what they believed was right – cheating on the tests. Not only is this happening within the nation, but also internationally because some students from China have been caught using companies to find American based test-taking proxies and uses these grades to get into colleges in the United States, according to P. Tyre’s (2016) article. But why does this happen?
In Blinder’s article Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal, is basically the same as Aviv’s Wrong Answer, yet speaking more on the facts than on personal perspective. His article grants the readers a compare and contrast due to two different perspectives on the situation. Aviv is far more forgiving and compassionate in her article than Blinder who speaks of the logical facts behind this situation. Instead of focusing on what the teachers think, Blinder spoke of the overall conflict which included other schools cheating not only to help the children but for the benefits of keeping the schools going. Many schools were shut down in this process after being revealed that teachers had changed answers on the SATs and ACTs. Unfortunately, these schools were based in extremely poverty stricken environments to begin with, thus more people were uneducated due to lack of money. Since the parents were uneducated their children were naturally more slack in school and didn’t put forth the effort. Teachers were trying to change this and new that the only way to continue educating people in the community was for the community to have schools. However, since the students weren’t putting forth their best effort it effected the overall grades of the student bodies test scores. If the scores do not pass some certain criteria, then the schools would be shut down – thus influencing teachers to cheat for the sake of the students and people in the community. However, teachers aren’t the only one’s purposely cheating; there have been countless incidents of students cheating their way through the exams by using smarter, more educated students, according to Khadaroo. Often this either comes out of bribes of money or peer pressure and sometimes threats. Students also tend to not follow rules and assume they’ll be right even despite the warnings.
When looking closely at Wrong Answer it is easy to become infatuated with the teachers as the author continues to show them being nothing more than compassionate individuals who want the best for their students. The teachers naturally believed that the students were worth far much more than just their test scores too. So maybe standardized testing breeds an environment that encourages cheating? Given the more crucial and logical facts that Blinder presented in his article, I could understand why teachers would commit these crimes, knowing that their school could fail and that their students wouldn’t succeed based on test scores – but cheating is cheating and you’ll only get yourself in trouble in the end. According to Khadaroo, Eshaghoff and the six other students received felony charges and supposedly spent up to four years in prison for their juvenile actions. Tyre’s article, How Sophisticated Test Scams from China Are Making Their Way into the U.S. Retrieved, is vaguely similar where both Chinese students who participated in cheating their way into college also received charges and were taken to jail. Since then officials now realized that there are many more international students committing these crimes than they realized and proceeded to take action in preventing these scandals. In the end, all were effected for cheating no matter what the cause.
As a society most people were raised taught that cheating was foul, so many assume that if an induvial cheats then they should be punished. Unfortunately, many people don’t look into the details and discover the moral truth behind these scandals, like simply how poor the community was – thus effecting the schools - in Aviv’s Wrong Answer and Blinder’s article. The teachers were only trying to help, people may protest, but they did cheat – which is a felony at this expense. Then there’s people who cheat only for selfish reasons, like people who cheat for others for money or immigrants who are able to manipulate their tests grades from their original country. Yet, in the end no matter what the cause, cheating isn’t the most moral path. Yes, the tests are presumably more difficult than they should be and some schools are in the direst of states – we must be true people and ask for help instead of cheating the system. I completely understand where each source comes from and agree with nearly all, yet the main point to recall is that we shouldn’t cheat.
Blinder, A. (2015, April 1). Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/verdict-reached-in-atlanta-school-testing-trial.html?_r=0
Tyre, P. (2016, March 21). How Sophisticated Test Scams from China Are Making Their Way Into the U.S. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/how-sophisticated-test-scams-from-china-are-making-their-way-into-the-us/474474/
Khadaroo, S. T. (2011, September 28). SAT cheating scandal: Are stakes getting too high for college admission? Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/894505766/fulltext/1D0A8178A5C24C3APQ/1?accountid=14780
Aviv, R. (2014, July 14). Wrong Answer. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/07/21/wrong-answer