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Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating

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  • Levitt, Steven D.

Abstract

We develop an algorithm for detecting teacher cheating that combines information on unexpected test score fluctuations and suspicious patterns of answers for students in a classroom. Using data from the Chicago Public Schools, we estimate that serious cases of teacher or administrator cheating on standardized tests occur in a minimum of 4-5 percent of elementary school classrooms annually. Moreover, the observed frequency of cheating appears to respond strongly to relatively minor changes in incentives. Our results highlight the fact that incentive systems, especially those with bright line rules, often induce behavioral distortions such as cheating. Statistical analysis, however, may provide a means of detecting illicit acts, despite the best attempts of perpetrators to keep them clandestine.

Suggested Citation

  • Levitt, Steven D., 2002. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2wj7v1j4, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt2wj7v1j4
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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