D.C. Schools Investigate Security Breaches in 2011 Tests

Lisa Gartner, Examiner (Washington), May 18, 2011

D.C. school officials are investigating 14 security breaches by students and teachers during last month’s standardized testing, after throwing out last year’s scores from three classrooms with “evidence or a strong suspicion of a test security violation.”

Amid heightened scrutiny of the chronically troubled school system’s large testing gains, the Office of the State Superintendent ordered an investigation into 18 classrooms with a suspicious number of incorrect answers erased and corrected in the 2010 testing.

While eight schools were charters, 10 belonged to D.C. Public Schools–as did all three of the tossed-out testing rooms.

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Two teachers were forbidden from participating in the 2011 administration of the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System exams, while a third left the school system before the investigation was completed.

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Investigators found evidence of cheating at Noyes Elementary and “possible irregularities” at C.W. Harris and Leckie elementary schools.

Throwing out those classrooms’ scores, OSSE will recalculate whether the three elementary schools made “annual yearly progress,” federal benchmarks schools must meet to show improvements in student learning.

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Safiya Simmons, a spokeswoman for Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson, said the school system “will continue to move aggressively to take appropriate action, up to and including termination, in cases where any cheating has been confirmed and a teacher acted inappropriately.”

A USA Today investigation put a microscope on Noyes, where in just two years, the number of students passing math on the standardized tests increased from 10 percent to 58 percent.

The school’s dramatic improvement earned it a National Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education. It’s an honor that was given to only 264 public schools nationwide.

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On the 2009 reading test, seventh-grade students in one classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures–odds better than winning the Powerball, USA Today reported.

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Schools reported 31 incidents between April 4 and April 11 as nearly 40,000 students in 3,800 classrooms took the tests. District officials “deemed adequate” the manner in which 17 incidents were handled by schools.

Reports describe an “inappropriate level of support given to students” during testing, “possible assistance to student,” and a test administrator who “mixed up answer documents of two students.”

When one student finished his exam in just 20 minutes, he explained that he was “familiar” with the reading passage and questions.

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  • Ken P.

    Dishonest teacher cheat the system by erasing incorrect responses and filling in the correct responses. When this practice is sufficiently pervasive, investigators can detect this by comparing the ratio of wrong-to-right changes to the right-to-wrong changes. The clever cheater can fool the investigators by first making several wrong-to-right changes, and then, with the same number of remaining incorrect responses, pencil in the correct response and then immediately erase it. The result being that there is no ratio of favorable/unfavorable changes to detect.

    The problem is that dishonest teachers: 1) are major stakeholders in these exams, 2) are proctors during the testing, and 3) are part of the chain of custody of the completed exams. The only solution is to have these standardized exams proctored and collected by individuals without a direct interests in the performance of the students.

  • rjp

    This is why some professions can’t be rewarded for results.

  • Dave

    I recall walking through a car wash lobby back in the early 90’s when cell phones were really expensive. Among the air fresheners and steering wheel covers was a fake cell phone. I’m not kidding – a fake cell phone. I believe it said on the package “Impress your friends and strangers.” How sad is it to live an existence where ones self esteem is fed by such emptiness? Even sadder is that our society has taken this “pretending” into areas where peoples lives are at risk! Regardless of the teachers motivation (saving their job, ethnic pride, etc) it results in questionable intellects going places they should not go!

  • Anonymous

    This kind of thing wont help blacks one bit. In fact

    it promotes incompetence to a level that it can do even

    more damage. Blacks of course think reality can be

    postponed forever. Self Esteem is all that is required

  • Anonymous

    Folks, I teach in urban schools. Whenever you hear that this or that urban (minority) school is making ‘gains’ and is winning awards, it is ALWAYS the result of a)cheating, b) dishonest data manipulation, or c) seriously dumbing down the test that year or a combination of all three.

    Do not believe anything other than what I state above. We few courageous white teachers (who are not spoon-fed racial marxists) try to leak the truth whenever possible. We just have to be discreet about it so as not to lose our jobs. I am not joking here. Urban gains are ALWAYS based on manipulation. Little Shaneeqwa, Pablo and Dana’esh care less about modern education (read: white knowledge) than ever before.

  • John Engelman

    No Child Left Behind makes public school teachers even less willing than before to teach in inner city schools by creating impossible achievement goals.

  • Hareesh

    I have the one and only solution to reversing the “color achievement gap”. The sons and daughters of Indian immigrants score higher than whites on standardized tests by the same margin that whites outscore Blacks. Most of South Indians are dark as Blacks. If we import 50,000,000 Indian immigrants, the color gap will be reversed as the high test scores of Indians will offset the low test scores of Blacks.

  • Zeiss

    Hareesh @ #7

    “I have the one and only solution to reversing the “color achievement gap”… If we import 50,000,000 Indian immigrants, the color gap will be reversed as the high test scores of Indians will offset the low test scores of Blacks.”

    Yet another post touting importing superior Indians to race replace inferior White Americans. Why do I keep reading the same post on AR over and over?

    Is this what is considered “intellectual debate?” Having to waste time and energy defending ourselves against “superior” Indians or Chinese? Haven’t we wasted enough time with these posts?

    Stop posting them AR. We’ve read enough to know that 1.Indians would like to takeover white homelands and get rid of us 2.Are incapable of creating a livable culture themselves. You are driving subscribers like me onto other sites, I’m already seeing familiar names elsewhere.

  • Mark

    Hareesh,

    Would the Indian test scores be representative of Indians as a whole or just representative of children of professional immigrants compared to a complete cross section of Whites?

    If Indians are on average that much smarter than whites, why does your country look like this?

    http://goo.gl/vaju

  • James

    Hareesh is out of his mind. India has an extremely low average IQ, which is why they are a third world nation. India’s huge population base will always have some people of above average intelligence contained within it because of the nature of the bell curve. But on average, they are no smarter than African-Americans.

  • Anonymous

    “”The clever cheater can fool the investigators by first making several wrong-to-right changes, and then, with the same number of remaining incorrect responses, pencil in the correct response and then immediately erase it. The result being that there is no ratio of favorable/unfavorable changes to detect.””

    ********************

    Part of the problem with this is that even the so-called ‘teachers’ are so dumbed down that they can’t even cheat undetectably.

  • Question Diversity

    3 Dave:

    That does not surprise me. I have heard black women say that there are no such people as doctors, only the kind of people who are successful in making other people think they’re doctors. In other words, in their minds, a hospital or clinic is full of scam artists. One of the women said that she wanted that sort of thing for her daughter, i.e. to make people think she’s a doctor. The concept of someone successfully completing a number of years of education and displaying applied knowledge seems to be alien to them.

  • sedonaman

    Teacher cheating was described in a book, “Freakenomics”, which I read about five years ago. The way it was discovered was more clever: the tests were examined for patterns of wrong-to-right answers. Thus, if the same answers were changed on different student answer sheets, a flag went up for closer scrutiny.

    In this case, they actually fired the teachers involved.

  • The Bobster

    It’s happening in NJ, too.

    http://goo.gl/yP5Lm

    New Jersey says teachers gave improper help on tests

    May 14, 2011|By Rita Giordano, Inquirer Staff Writer

    Eight New Jersey teachers, including one from the Gloucester Township district and one from the Upper Township district in Cape May County, gave students improper standardized-test assistance last year, according to state investigation records.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely, this sort of thing goes on. Also, the incentives for students to attend week-long tutoring sessions before the testing are impressive. (Only for the English and math areas that comprise scores tht rate the schools on AYP, or Annual Yearly Progress — the other tested subjects do not have tutoring sessions, nor do they have incentives…).

    Figure this out! It’s not rocket science!

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Mark:

    Thanks for that very important link!

    Notice that these photos of India were published by a Chinese site, the captions translated from Chinese into English — I read through the comments which were mostly about Chinese vs. Indians arguing as to whose country is filthier and more polluted.

    Amazing!! (and not for the weak of stomach!)

    In retaliation, this was posted: http://goo.gl/BAti

    Amazing Pictures: Pollution in China.

    Look at this! http://goo.gl/ZRjao

    And this: http://goo.gl/56z8Y

    I have added your valuable link to my arsenal, thanks again.

    Bon

  • Mark

    Bon,

    If that won’t stop someone from buying Made in China, I don’t know what would.