Posted on September 6, 2011

Cheating on State Tests Found at Two Los Angeles Schools

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011

The state has thrown out the test scores of a top-performing Los Angeles school and of the highest-scoring campus in the nationally known Green Dot charter group after cheating was uncovered involving several teachers.

Short Avenue Elementary in Del Rey and Animo Leadership Charter High School in Inglewood were barred from receiving academic rankings released last week by the California Department of Education. {snip}

At Short, three teachers are accused of changing answers or coaching students to the correct answers or both. At Animo Leadership, a science teacher is accused of fixing wrong answers.


Cheating scandals have received increasing attention nationwide. In the Atlanta school system, 82 educators have admitted cheating, with misconduct documented at 44 of 100 schools. In Washington, D.C., concerns have risen about cheating in response to the high-stakes improvement mandates of former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Locally, at six charter schools operated by Crescendo, principals were ordered last year to require teachers to review the state tests in advance and then use that material to prepare students. L.A. Unified recently closed those schools in the aftermath of the scandal.


Deasy said he planned to launch a deeper investigation, including into whether scores from past years are legitimate. Short Avenue had until now been a success story, with a mix of students that substantially reflects the district at large. About two-thirds are low-income and about two-thirds are Latino. Other ethnicities include white (11%), black (9.4%) and Asian (8%.) Last year, the school’s performance index ranking was 848, well above the state target of 800.


With a valid score, Animo Leadership would have approached an 800 API, which high schools serving large numbers of low-income minority students struggle to attain. The school, which was the founding Green Dot campus, has been named among the top 100 public high schools by U.S. News & World Report.

“It would have been our highest-scoring school,” [Green Dot chief executive Marco] Petruzzi said. “That’s why I’m so disappointed.”


[Editor’s Note: According to U.S. News and World Report, Hispanics make up 98.9 percent of the student body at Animo Leadership School.]