The Short and Long Term Impact of Cheating on Students

This week, I am unpacking the recent scandal that surfaced with Atlanta Public Schools. Administrators and faculty have been cheating on behalf of the students, changing their test scores so that school funding and teacher salaries would increase. It’s bad enough that adults would demonstrate such a poor model of ethics for their students. What’s worse is—those students were not eligible for special tutoring since their grades didn’t show that they needed it. They have been disabled. My concern is—the future will ambush them, as they enter adulthood unprepared. Imagine with me for a moment: what’s the impact on these students? Let’s explore the short-term impact today and the long-term impact tomorrow.


1. Confidence and self-esteem assassination. Some teachers were shocked that students passed grades. Later these students were clueless, yet were not given the opportunity to receive tutoring to improve in school. Grades didn’t show they needed it.

2. Victim mentality. They’ll feel their failure is someone else’s fault—and in many cases it is. Their prevailing perspective will be “you owe me a good grade, I showed up for class.” Whenever there’s a free lunch—no one wants to pay for one.

3.  Good grades & success will mean little, since their price is so low. Like the soccer team where every kid gets a trophy—the value of the reward drops. Kids begin to see they are meaningless. The value of the currency of “grades” just plummeted.

We, as adults, must be intentional about the model we give and the ramifications of our leadership. Growing Leaders is laying plans to be part of this solution in Atlanta. My hope is—you can be part of a solution to the injustices in your city.

Tomorrow, I will examine what the long-term impact might be on these kids.


P.S. Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post is writing  a great series of articles detailing the APS scandal. I was honored to be quoted in “The Most Sickening Part of Atlanta’s Cheating Scandal.” For more details about the scandal, read here.

The Short and Long Term Impact of Cheating on Students