It’s been a year since educators were sentenced in the Atlanta cheating scandal (see The Best Posts & Articles About The Atlanta Testing Scandal) and articles about it, and its impact on students, are beginning to appear.

Education Week has a pretty alarming piece on it, headlined Study: When Educators Cheat, Students Suffer.

I, though, was particularly impressed with a nuanced piece in The Atlantic titled Why Would a Teacher Cheat? Without excusing the Atlanta teachers, writer Alia Wong examines the broader question of teacher “leniency” in grading. Here’s an excerpt:


I’ve don’t believe I’ve ever done anything that would be labeled “cheating” by anybody. However, all of us have a great deal of discretion in student assessment.

The guiding principle for me is always, “What do I think will move this student forward?” That doesn’t mean moving him/her into situations where I don’t think they will be adequately prepared. However, might I have on occasion passed students who some others might have felt had  not”earned” a passing grade because I didn’t feel failing them would be in their best interest? Perhaps (see The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both).

We teachers can hold enormous power to affect the trajectory of our students’ lives.  That amount of power requires some discretion in how we use it.