Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fun with Anagrams

I like anagrams. It was me who discovered that the letters in my former principal's name could be rearranged to form two words that mean "a big explosion of flatulence". I've always thought this was a sign for us all to stay away from that woman, so I made sure every member of the staff was aware of this bad omen. Oddly, I no longer work there, although I'm sure there was more to it than that.

I was thinking of writing a post about cheating today, when it struck me that the words cheating and teaching are perfect one word anagrams. That must mean something. So I put on my investigative hat (the red one) and plugged the word teaching into an anagram server. Here are some of the telling results:

Change It ("it" referring to the answers)
Acing The (as in Acing the Test!)
Ace Thing (see above)
Get A Inch (ahead of your fellow teachers!)
Cat Hinge (OK..they all don't make sense)

You see the pattern? We're being told to cheat! I knew ever since NCLB became law that cheating was the way of the future, because one of the goals of NCLB was to have every student reading at grade level by 2014. I remember laughing heartily the first time I heard that. "The only way that will ever happen," I recall thinking, "is if we all cheat or make the tests so easy my dog could pass them." Well, the tests have gotten about as easy as they can get. To test that theory, I put a number 2 pencil in my dog's paw. He gave me an insulted look and chewed up the pencil. Which just shows you. So the only thing left is cheating.

I starting thinking about cheating during test prep the other day. At least four students that day asked me to define words for them, including words that were choices in the multiple choice section. When I told them I couldn't do that because it was part of the test, they all gave me a look just like the one my dog had given me, only without so many teeth. One child even stared chewing his pencil. Yes, they seemed insulted and perhaps even shocked that I would not give them the answers. Imagine that! What kind of teacher am I, that I won't help my students achieve and be the best they can be!?!

This is where we are headed, of course. With tests dumbed down, merit pay for students and teachers, and the push to tie employment to test scores, it is inevitable that cheating will become more widespread than it already is. If a teacher has perhaps half his or her salary riding on a single test, or may get the ax if little Johnny forgets what an inference is, the pressure to cheat will be too much for many. I doubt that politicians mind at all; increased test scores are always good for them.

So, will I succumb to the temptation? Will you? Before you say you'd never do such a thing, let me inform you that one anagram for "Joel I. Klein" is "Eek! I'll Join!!"

What does that tell you?

Postscript for the nerdy among you: In researching this post, I discovered that if you put the word "anagram" into the Google search box, it will say Did You Mean: nag a ram?

1 comment:

Philip Nobile said...

I have been banging the drums for years to force the DOE and UFT to face the massive cheating by administrators and teachers on standardized tests.

No surprise that the Mayor and Chancellor have no interest in curbing tampering. Shocking to the conscience, however, is the UFT's blind eye to the crimes of its members.

Randi turned me down at a DA when I suggested that the union endorse blind grading and Mulgrew stonewalled me when I recommended a cheating survey after the example of the Chicago Teachers Union. Worst of all, my Brooklyn District Rep told me to cover up a cheating ring at my school.

Grade changing is so rampant and casual on Regents exams that stopping it would expand the achievement gap to apocalyptic dimensions.

Apparently, the DOE and the UFT are happy to wash their hands of the politically unacceptable truth and throw unprepared minority kids into a cruel world where high numeracy and literacy are the keys to a successful and healthy life.