The huge corruption case in Atlanta schools makes one thing clear, writes Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: It's time we put an end to the dumb idea of linking teacher pay to standardized test scores. Prosecutors say the former superintendent and others collected fat bonuses for improved scores—which they achieved not by making students smarter but by changing their incorrect answers to correct ones. The kids, meanwhile, got the message that they had mastered subjects they were actually clueless about.
"Standardized achievement tests are a vital tool, but treating test scores the way a corporation might treat sales targets is wrong," writes Robinson. They should be part of reform, not the sole determinant of its success—otherwise, more Atlantas await. "But even absent cheating, the blind obsession with test scores implies that teachers are interchangeable implements of information transfer, rather than caring professionals who know their students as individuals," he writes. "It reduces students to the leavings of a No. 2 pencil." Click for Robinson's full column.