The Pressure to Cheat in a High-Stakes Testing Environment

Sharon L. Nichols, David Berliner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

22 Scopus citations


High-stakes testing environment creates pressures on educators. These summative high-stakes tests have too much riding on them-bonuses to modestly paid people, school closures and loss of jobs, and shame and humiliation for lack of progress. These conditions induce some educators to engage in blatant cheating, or impel them toward acts that are morally ambiguous. The circumstances now affecting education are the same as those that have affected many fields of endeavor, and there is even a social science law to account for this phenomenon-Campbell's law. Whether in finance or in education, both, the blatant and the greyer acts of deceit mislead the public. When indicators take on too much value, as when stakes are high, indicators and educators are corrupted. When the public is misled through outright chicanery or through compromised test validity, the reputation of the whole system and its entire workforce is damaged. If high-stakes testing corrupts the profession as it currently seems to be doing, the nation may lose from the profession those who endured its difficulties for the small honors it bestows. This is too great a price to pay for an accountability system that appears not to work and for which there are alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPsychology of Academic Cheating
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780123725417
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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