Helping Students Cheat Their Way Into U.S. Universities

October 27, 2016

shh-forblog78359930If you’ve spent time working in International Schools, you know that not all graduating seniors will legitimately earn their way into the U.S. universities at which they’re accepted — a little grade ‘fixing,’ a helpful assist from the school counselor on an entrance application, a co-author’s rewrite of the personal essay, and, voila! The kid’s a Freshman at a prestigious university halfway around the world. You might ask, “What’s the harm of that?”

ISR says there’s plenty wrong! Inherent to our mission as educators is the desire to foster students capable of performing at a university level. Portraying students, on paper, as academically more than they are sets them up for failure both at school and in life. We’re all too familiar with the overly inflated senior who swaggers off to college, only to return after one semester, deflated and a prime candidate to attend a local/lesser university, if there is one, where Dad’s money can again influence the grading scale.

I’m reminded of a School Review hosted on International Schools Review. The Review tells of a math teacher whose student earned a “D” grade on each of 4 major exams. Soon after assigning a “D” to the final report card the director called the teacher into his office and pointed out an error had been made. The director demonstrated that by adding up the 4 “D” grades, each worth 1 point, one arrived at a total of 4 points, which “equated to a B grade.”  The teacher was instructed to correct the “error” and left the school thereafter.

DiPont Education, China, recently made the news for “helping” students gain acceptance to top-rated U.S. universities, although helping students to cheat would be a better description. Reuters News reports that Dipont Education “buttered up” admissions officers at top universities with free trips to China and $4,500 cash “honorariums.”  Reuters also reports that counselors confessed to writing admission essays and filling out university enrollment applications for students. There’s also the question of a $750,000 donation to the University of Southern California through DiPont’s U.S.-based non-profit corporation, currently under investigation by the IRS.

We encourage you to read the Reuters article in full. If the allegations are true, DiPont has set a precedent for going beyond anything we at ISR could even have imagined. Go to Reuters Article

There’s big money to be made in the International School business as host-national parents are ready and willing to plunk down big tuition bucks for a school with a track record of graduates attending top U.S. universities. Considering the hefty fees parents pay for such promises, they expect results. Of course, some students are qualified for top universities while other students clearly are not. The problem comes in when schools make those that are not, look like they are.

Comments? Please Scroll Down

…If you’ve spent time working in International Schools, you know that not all graduating seniors will earn their way into the U.S. universities at which they’re accepted. You might ask, “What’s the harm of that?” A little grade ‘fixing,’ a helpful assist from the school counselor on an entrance application, a co-author’s rewrite of the personal essay, and, hey! The kid’s a Freshman at a prestigious university halfway around the world…

How ISR Stands Up for You-An Example

October 20, 2016

  Not all schools and directors view a negative Review as an opportunity to improve their school. To the contrary, many react by contacting ISR demanding the offending Review be removed, often accompanied with the threat of “legal action” should we fail to comply. A few days ago, ISR received just such a threat.

We believe you have the right to know what goes on behind the scenes when you’re considering a particular school for a career move.  For this reason, when we receive threatening letters from schools/directors/attorneys we post these letters along with the reviews of the schools to which they pertain.

We’ve displayed the most recent threat below and exactly as we received it (through our contact us form) with spelling and grammatical errors in intact. We did remove the name of the school and director for purposes of the newsletter. This same letter is, however, posted along with the reviews of this school in the members’ area: 

Recent Letter to ISR Demanding Action

submitted by: ( on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 14:11:40

name: (withheld)

message: Im the Rector of one of the School, a comment was posted. I think it is very unfair to let people upload whatever commnet they want. They can affect the reputation of a school very fast. And I say its unfair because there a a lot of things that are not true. As a school we haven’t authorized to use the name of our organization in your website. So please contact us, if not then we will have to start a legal process.

Schools and directors who consistently take advantage of teachers are in the habit of getting their way. And they expect to get their way with ISR. A problem starts when they realize ISR stands up for its members and refuses to allow schools to manipulate how they are represented on ISR. We couldn’t sleep nights if we had any part in allowing you to make a career decision based on deceptive information. Our mission is to provide a safe venue through which teachers can share the honest truth about their experience with a particular school.

In response to such threats from schools we respond with a letter similar to the one seen below. Our hope is that schools and directors will see that negative Reviews can, and do offer them a rich opportunity to work with staff to correct grievances. Some schools and directors do proceed in a very positive way, and others escalate the threats directed at ISR to new levels. In the 13 years ISR has been on line we have never removed a Review from the site in response to a legal threat.

Any Review sites that alter, doctor, or even worse, removes (!) Reviews is no better than the schools that exploit educators for money. This recruiting season, as always, you can depend on ISR for School Reviews that contain what the author and/or teacher intended to share with you!

The ISR Response to Threats of Legal Action

Dear …..

Thank you for writing and pointing out the Review of your school you find objectionable.

Please understand that ISR is a public bulletin board. We function strictly as a third-party venue to provide a space where members can exchange information. As such, everyone is entitled to relate their experiences and naturally, not everyone has the same experiences.

The person, or persons, that posted a Review you find objectionable has obviously had an experience contrary to how you may perceive the situation from your position. ISR is not in a position to remove information from the site. We are not editors or publishers, and as such we strictly provide a venue.

There may well be two sides to a situation and from your letter it sounds like you have a different story to tell about how things are currently at your school. If you would like to compose a letter stating your version of the facts we can link it directly to the section of a Review you find objectionable.
You may want to post your own Review and identify yourself. This way readers can see two points of view, side-by-side. Membership is not required to post Reviews to the ISR web site and you will find a link on the home page through which you may post to the site.

May I recommend you see the following, which outlines a positive way to benefit from Reviews you consider unfavorable?

Ben M. @ ISR

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what
International Schools Review is all about!

Comments? Please scroll down

Choosing a School Review Site You Can Trust

October 13, 2016

..In 2003 International Schools Review went online with one startling Review. Within days, more Reviews began rolling in from other International Educators who, too, had suffered injustices at the hand of schools and directors. For the founder of ISR, it came as a huge surprise to learn that the sordid events outlined in ISR’s first-ever Review were not uncommon. They were, in fact, endemic.

..As International Schools Review grew and evolved, the International Educators’ Bill of Rights came into existence through the collaboration of hundreds of International Educators around the globe. Interestingly, every major recruiting agency refused to endorse this document. International Schools Review became firmly grounded in the International Educators’ Bill of Rights and, as such, our mission has been to provide a safe haven for International educators to share the honest, forthright truth about their schools. Our byline, International Educators Keeping Each Other Informedis far more than just a saying — your career and future are our top priority!

..In recent years we’ve seen new school Review sites spring up, some with your best interest in mind and others not so much.  One such upstart imitates the look/feel of the ISR Newsletter and tries to deceive readers into believing the short, one-line comments they post actually lead to full-length reviews, when in actuality the one-liner Newsletter blurb IS the entire “review.” Another site has optimized their site to appear like ISR to search engines, even calling itself by our name but changing one letter of International Schools Review. A couple of upstarts even host ads from schools. But what shocked us most was to discover a site that actually posts a directory, along with photos, of all members on their homepage, leaving members vulnerable to retaliation by schools.

  ISR observes that, of course, if the only information you allow on your “review” site is laudatory and/or benign, there’ll be no problems coming from schools. There ARE problems aplenty, however, for those candidates seeking an honest appraisal of school policies and treatment, yet finding only happy-happy, glowing comments most likely written by invested review authors such as school owners, admin, admonished/threatened teachers, or board members.

..Can you depend on the information a web site hosts? We compared individual Schools reviewed on ISR with reviews of the same schools on other sites.  We were horrified to see that Schools with a multitude of poor Reviews on ISR were conversely portrayed as being good, even excellent (!) places to work on these other sites. We can only surmise that such review sites are either a.) acquiescing to schools hoping to attract their advertising dollar, or b.) have backed down and removed negative information after threat of lawsuits or other retaliation. ISR has never backed down, will not back down, and we do not accept ads from schools. ISR allows its Members to maintain anonymity in posting all Reviews.

..It’s wise to consult various sources. Without pointing any fingers, ISR urges you to carefully examine any site you depend on to supply information needed to make a wise, informed career decision. NO one wants to find themselves stranded in a foreign country, only to realize they’ve been duped by a site, AND an International School, both in it merely for the money. Don’t leave your career to chance!

One of These Schools Could Ruin Your Career

October 6, 2016

red-and-blue-dices-116923640-schreviews..It’s no secret that some so-called “International Schools” were created with the sole intent to financially capitalize on parents seeking a quality International education for their children. As such, these schools don’t focus on educational standards, but need only lily-white Western faces, and not much more, to complete the facade. No educator should naively end up in one of these schools.

..The problem is, not all web sites allow teachers to tell the honest truth about such schools and post only pollyanna-ish, glowing Comments rather than full Reviews. This may sound harsh, but know this: ISR hosts thousands of honest, up-front School Reviews. Those teachers who have been abused relate, in candid terms, how they were deceived and taken advantage of by unscrupulous School recruiters hiring unsuspecting candidates in order to bilk families out of millions of tuition dollars.

..Don’t get the wrong idea — There are wonderful schools out there and ISR can help you pinpoint the right school for you. We highly recommend you stay safe and consult ISR’s 10,000+ candid, in-depth School Reviews before YOUR next career move. Not a member yet? Take a Tour of ISR

Do you have something to add to this topic?
Please Scroll Down to Post