Academic Dishonesty among Public School Teachers

Table of contents

Administering Standardized Test

Teachers have always displayed a conduct of academic honesty. Could a behavior of academic dishonesty exist among our public professional educators? The expectations of public school teachers have always been to display acts of ethical behavior. For an act of unethical behavior to occur among teachers, this would indeed be a violation of all academic honesty policies. Unethical behavior is an action that one could never imagine taking place in a classroom by a public school teacher.

My teachers were always viewed as having a high respectable position on academic honesty. You could definitely position them into an elite group. Their professionalism was highly regarded as always being truthful.  My teachers were never questioned about academic honesty or any other incident that may have occurred in the classroom. It is so ironically today how all parties in the classroom seem to possess rights equally to the teachers.

My community always portrayed teachers’ personality and professionalism as being very loyal and faithful to their passion of teaching. They were always observed as being right and never wrong. Who would ever have imagined that the question would one day surface, “Does academic dishonesty occur among public school teachers administering standardized test?” It has surface everywhere, in other countries, in our own country, the United States of America, and even in my home state, the state of Mississippi, which is a very conservative state. There is tons of research regarding teacher cheating in public schools.

Literature Review

According to authors, Miller and Maynes (2015), teachers are breaking the academic honesty policy in their classrooms.  In my paper, the cheating violation will be referred to as “teacher cheating”.  They cite the causes of “teacher cheating” to “mandated test assessments”, “evaluations based on test scores”, “the compensation structure”, “test security placed” in wrong  hands, “peer pressure”, and “technology”. (Miller and Maynes, 2015, 7, 2-5) In conclusion, the authors stated that the “motivation to cheat on state assessments appears to be higher than ever.” They also share strategies to increase academic honesty in the classroom. (Miller and Maynes, 2015, 7)

A second source, Jacob and Levitt (2003), also agree that teachers violate the academic honesty policy, along with the support of school administrators.  They point out the causes of teacher cheating as “test-based accountability systems”, “interventions”, “performance to determine probation status”, and “teacher pay or rewards”. In their approach, they utilize economics to display the relationships with these causes of teacher cheating. (Jacob and Levitt, 2003, 844, 850 & 868). Jacob and Levitt conclude that the frustrating factors are likely to cause the unwanted behaviors of teachers to occur.

Authors, Nichols, S. and Berliner D.C. (2005), says that teachers violate the academic honesty policy as a result of “future employability of teachers and administrators”, “bonus pay”, student’s “promotion” status, school’s “achievement” progress, and “losses or gains in federal and state funding”. The authors view a “crisis” as a result of mandated benchmarks for passing on the standardized test.

The authors are very critical of standardized testing mandates stating that the teachers experience “heavy pressure” as a result. (Nichols and Berliner, 2005, iii, 1-7) In conclusion, this brings into consideration that testing can be very stressful to teachers whom may suffer a job loss as a result of standardized test results impacting their classrooms.

The fourth source, author Blazer C. (2014), regards that the academic honesty policy is not followed due to the “pressure to raise student’s test scores”, “teacher evaluations”, “merit pay”, and “school restructuring effects on test results.” (Blazer, 2014, 1-2)  The author concluded that academic honesty policies can be modified to provide enhancement to the school to bring a sense of non-pressure educational measurements.

Similar to the findings of other authors, Ferrar-Esteban, G. & Agnelli, F.G. (2013) say that motivational factors, “such as social capital based on particularistic”,  play a significant role as “deterrents” which contributes to “external control during tests or social capital based on universalistic values and incentives, such as student peer effects”. (Ferrar-Esteban and Agnelli, 2013, 4).  They concluded that these factors are very similar to the desires of teachers wanting success to bloom; therefore extreme measures are sought.

The research regarding teacher cheating is very extensive.  Educators will cheat to protect themselves. A sixth source, Vogell, H. (2011), states that “teachers cheating behavior occurred on all school levels” due to “unrealistic test-score goals, or ‘targets’, a culture of pressure”, “public praise”, “a culture of fear, intimidation, retaliation”, and “bonuses”. Teachers have encountered much pressure among state officials concerning honesty. Unlike earlier days, academic honesty must be enforced by state officials. Stricter rules and regulations should become a lead factor concerning teachers’ academic honesty. (Vogell, 2011, 1-4)

Although all the other authors’ findings to why teachers cheat are very related and focuses directly on teacher cheating , authors Turnbull, G.K. and Zahirovic-Herbert, V. (2013) aspects to educators motives is heavily enforced as a means of real estate property values, which drives the pressure of how schools districts are evaluated as well.  This pressure is geared toward the main factor to evaluate the student’s success, the standardized test.

They test is performed well in higher performing schools but very poorly in low-performing schools. “But economists argue that student test scores do not provide a proper measure of school quality; average tests scores also reflect changes due to student mobility and non-school factors that contribute to student achievement such as family and community characteristics.”  (Turnbull and Zahirovic-Herbert, 2013, 1-2). The reason for this difference is based on the economics systems utilized by the authors in rating school quality.

In comparison to the other authors finding regarding why teachers cheat, co-author and editor of Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (American Psychological Association), Richard P. Phelps (2009), stated that “The most fundamental issues in these school scandals are neither cheating, nor pressure, or testing; they are power and control.  Standardized test scores will be trustworthy if responsible external authorities control their administration.  It is that simple.  Leave control of testing, or “audit testing” to school administrators themselves, and wide-scale institutionalized cheating on educational tests will be with us forever.” (Phelps, 2009, 1)


Although measures have been made concerning academic honesty, much more enforcement has to be done. Education is continuing to be measured on all school levels. These issues will continue to cause a gap in honesty among public school teachers. New protocols and procedures to the current testing system should be implemented and adopted. Academic honesty is a questionable behavior around the globe; however, changes can be made.


Blazer, C. (2014). Information Capsule Research Services. Educator cheating on high-stakes test: State and School District Reactions, 1-2.
Ferrar-Esteban, G. & Agnelli, F.G. (2013). Rationale and incentives for cheating in the standardised tests of the Italian assessment system, 4.
Jacob, B. & Levitt, S. (2003). Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 844, 850 & 868.
Miller, J. & Maynes, D. (2015). Weathering the Perfect Test Security Storm in Educational Assessments: Caveon White Paper, Caveon Test Security, 1, 2-5, 7.
Nichols, S. & Berliner, D.C. (2005). The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators through High-Stakes Testing. The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, iii, 1-7.
Phelps, Richard P.  (2009). NonPartisan Education Review/Essays, Vol. 7, No. 5.  Excerpt from  Correcting Fallacies about Educational Psychological Testsing.  (American Psychological
Association). 1-3.
Turnbull, G.K. & Zahirovic-Herbert, V. (2013). How useful are Measures of Local School Quality? What Property Values are Telling Us, Real Estate Notes, No. 6, 1-2.
Vogell, H. (2011). Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 1-4


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