Take Away the Incentive to Eliminate School Cheating

Burnt toastW. Edwards Deming often spoke about American Toast.

“You burn and I’ll scrape.”

This fits the picture that is being painted in the American Education system.

A WallStreet Journal article titled, For School Tests, Measures to Detect Cheating Proliferate outlines how school systems are hiring a company called Caveon Test Security to help prevent and detect cheating on tests.  This represents the epitome of the making of  American Toast.

I don’t fault Caveon for taking advantage of a bad system – after all, it is the American way.  Making money off of other people’s ignorance and stupidity will always have a home here.

It should not be difficult to recognize that the US education system has fallen into the trap that impairs business – namely incentives.  Incentives will always get people to do something you may desire.

The incessant testing of students has paved a path to score or grade teachers and schools.  The incentives come in the form of more money for schools with high test scores.  If, however, you are at the other end of the spectrum you may just want to save your job.

Testing schemes — like finances in business — are just keeping score.  The methods of teaching are what will make the figures better.  Focus on method and not result seems to be something that our education folks can’t get their head around – which is scary.

The unintended consequences of incentives have played out in DC, Philadelphia, and Atlanta in high profile cases.  Yet there has been many less publicized incidents of cheating.  Remove the incentive to cheat and companies like Caveon will wilt like a weed — it will cut off the source that makes it grow.

Instead spend the money on teaching methods — and why you are at it get rid of the expensive tests.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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