Unintended Consequences of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): Cheating

I wonder how much longer we can call consequences “unintended” when we can actually predict how new rules will modify behavior. This today from NCPA:
With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), now
three years old, the amount of information about schools presented to
the general public is at an all-time high. However, the average kid in
a failing institution is no closer to escaping now than before the law
was passed, says Lisa Snell, director of the Reason Foundation’s
education program.
Federal and state legislators have a newfound focus on school
accountability, but scant attention is being paid to the quality of
data they are using, whether the topic is violence, test scores or
dropout rates. Consider:
o In the 2003-04 school year, 47 states and the District of
Columbia reported they were home to not a single
unsafe school, yet, in D.C. alone, the D.C. Office of the
Inspector General reported more than 1,700 “serious
security incidents” in city schools, including 464 weapons
o Economists from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of
Government explored the prevalence of cheating in public
schools and found that on any given test, the scores
of students in 3 to 6 percent of classrooms are doctored
by teachers or administrators.
o Administrators often misrepresent the dropout rate by
counting students who leave as transfers and not
dropouts, like in the 2003 state audit of the Houston district
where more than half of the 5,500 students who left in
the 2002 school year should have been declared dropouts but
were not.
These distortions hide the extent of schools’ failures, deceive
taxpayers about what our ever-increasing education budgets are buying
and keep kids locked in failing institutions, says Snell. And experts
believe the incentives for teachers and administrators to manipulate
data will only increase as schools begin to feel the consequences of
low scores.
Source: Lisa Snell, “How Schools Cheat,” Reason, Volume 37, Number
2, June 2005.
For text:
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