Achievement culture values competition and willingness to work hard in order to achieve targets. Hall has created an environment where goals needed to be met and implemented harsh consequences that followed if not achieved, such as risks of teachers losing their jobs. This is a form of behavioural substitution where an old organisational culture is replaced with ‘new’ culture. “Low score, out the door” was constantly repeated in the system, displaying Hall’s authoritative nature. Contrarily, an incentive bonus was provided for schools that achieved 70% of their goals, positively reinforcing schools to manipulate students’ scores to receive personal gains. Teachers were found to be hinting to students about correct answers and arranging seats during tests so that students could easily cheat off each other. This does not align with the theory of Consistency Culture which is to adopt consistent & standard procedures during tests.This created a toxic culture for schools where only competition and rewards were the central focus, disregarding the skills of students as test scores do not reflect their actual abilities. Interviews with teachers showed their fear of retaliation and the pressure they had to increase students’ performance.
According to Elisabeta and Georgiana, systems that are based on performance can significantly impact the organisational culture which can be seen here, where the culture of cheating arose merely due to a system that was supposed to encourage schools in increasing the skills of students.
Generation and Evaluation of a Range of Alternative Solutions
Take away the bonus reward
The problem of manipulating students’ test scores could be eliminated by taking away the bonus that schools receive and rather, replacing it with fixed funding for upgrading school facilities. The elimination of a personal incentive could result in less tendency for cheating to occur as teachers will not receive anything for themselves in return. This positively affects the school as the “reward” would benefit the entire school, including the students rather than teachers, ultimately drive students to do better in tests with their own abilities. “Incentives may backfire” shows us that positive reinforcement may not always be the best choice as teachers will allow cheating to happen for personal gain.
However, taking away such reward may result in schools not doing their best in helping students achieve high test scores as there is no motivation to do so. Cheating may continue to occur if schools are desperate for funding towards school facilities.
Stop the CRCT System
The CRCT System has created a competitive and toxic culture for APS, putting everyone’s focus on achieving targets. Removing the system could place teachers’ focus on students’ learning rather than a competitive education system. Eliminating the system could stop the competitive achievement culture that APS has adopted through Hall, reducing the risk of cheating in tests as teachers will not have to face fear of retaliation or failing to obey rules.
However, the absence of CRCT could negatively affect teachers whereby losing motivation to teach as there are no gains. This could also result in a decline in the entire education system as there is no ‘drive’ or pressure given to schools to have high achievements, since competition allows for motivation. Organisational culture is a “significant means of motivation”, highlighting the fact that the presence of CRCT allows schools to be driven to perform well.
Hire a trained external examiner
An external examiner during tests is a source of control for APS as tests will be standardised across schools. By hiring a trained examiner, teachers will be prevented from committing fraud as they are not present in class. This will also allow schools to test students on their actual ability to answer in tests instead of cheating, which does not portray actual understanding. Having a centralised way of conducting tests where students are spread apart instead of being positioned in ways where cheating could occur will provide more accurate CRCT data. According to Bertoni, Brunello and Rocco students’ test scores have declined when an external examiner is present as cheating could not take place. This displays the significance that external examiners have in reducing the risk of cheating in tests.
However, it is possible that schools do not inform about tests occurring which could mean that cheating could occur in this instance. There is also a risk that schools may be able to fabricate reports unless an external examiner is there to cross-check every record.
The recommendation for APS is to hire an external examiner to standardise the way schools conduct tests. This solution involves the theory of organisational culture, specifically consistency culture which allows groups to adopt internal focus and consistent way of operation. By utilizing external examiners, cheating could be prevented as these examiners are highly trained and qualified.
Teachers of APS were seen to be pointing answers to students as well as seating students close together so that they were able to look across each others’ papers, displaying inconsistency during examinations.
External examiners would have consistent procedures where each child is spread apart evenly, as well as respecting the time allocation of each test. This will also help in securing accurate and meaningful data for CRCT.
This solution is a better alternative compared to eliminating bonuses or the CRCT System as it still gives teachers motivation to improve students’ grades due to incentives being present. Eliminating CRCT would completely lose the drive and excitement for schools as there is no point in exceling. However, hiring external examiners would allow teachers to be driven to teach students without the risk of cheating.
Therefore, the use of external examiners during tests will allow consistency across all of APS, providing CRCT with accurate results and eliminating the risk of cheating being committed. As Matthew illiterates, new cultures need to suit the needs of a group in order to function.