Posted on August 17, 2012

Crackdown Is Likely Reason for Plummeting Scores at City School

Jessica Bock, STL Today, August 17, 2012

Just a year ago, results on state tests for reading and math showed Herzog elementary school students outperforming their peers at other schools in the St. Louis district.

Those passing rates on tests plummeted this year, according to data made public this week by state education officials. The likely factor: a crackdown on cheating.

The school was one of at least three where administrators investigated cheating allegations in 2011. Following the inquiries, two employees at Herzog are no longer with the district.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams stepped up efforts to ensure the results were valid during testing in the spring, hiring an oversight coordinator for those schools, as well as placing a member of the district accountability staff at the schools each day during testing. {snip}


According to data from the Missouri Assessment Program tests, the portion of students scoring proficient or advanced in math at Herzog dropped from 43 percent in 2011 to about 8 percent this year. In communications arts, the pass rate fell from 47 percent to less than 10 percent.

Two other schools also had reports of potential test fraud in 2011 — Patrick Henry Downtown Academy and Ford Elementary School. Investigators have dismissed reports of cheating at Patrick Henry and Ford as claims made by “disgruntled” employees.

But the 2012 results also show severe declines at Ford Elementary, where scores went from 38 percent passing in communications arts to 10 percent; math scores went from 40 percent passing to 14 percent.

The number of students passing at Patrick Henry in communication arts and math had less dramatic changes — from about 16 percent to 12 percent in communication arts and from about 12 percent to 13 percent in math.

Overall, the results of the latest round of testing were good for the unaccredited district — it gained an academic point in its annual performance report released on Monday. That could position the district for provisional accreditation, but the final decision is up to the state.


In St. Louis, such reports in 2011 ultimately led investigators to recommend that Martine McGull, Herzog’s teaching learning facilitator, be removed and that reading specialist Laronda Johns-Campbell not participate in school testing for one year. Both were on paid administrative leave during the investigation. They are no longer employed by the district.

Critics say Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should take a more aggressive stance on test fraud, pointing out that Missouri does not analyze test scores to look for abnormal gains that might be red flags for cheating.


Meanwhile, 39 new reports of testing irregularities in the state’s more than 500 school districts were filed with the state as exams were administered this spring. In 2011, there were 41 reports.


[Editor’s Note: This site indicates that Herzog Elementary is 99.8 percent black. It says Patrick Henry Downtown Academy is 99.1 percent black.]