Thursday, March 11, 2010

Most Southwest Ga schools not involved in CRCT cheating investigation

State officials announced earlier this month that 191 schools — 10 percent of Georgia’s public elementary and middle schools — will be investigated for possible cheating on 2008 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

An analysis of erasure marks on student answer sheets implicated one in five schools statewide in potential test tampering.

While the Atlanta City School System has the most schools (46) under investigation, Dougherty County had the next highest with eight schools implicated. The only other school in Southwest Georgia under investigation is the Quitman County elementary/middle school.

The schools under investigation fell into the category of “severe.” There is a second tier of 117 schools in which the state expressed “moderate” concern over test tampering.

At least 178 schools must adopt new test security measures, such as increasing monitoring or rotating teachers during this spring’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. Students in grades one through eight take the yearly exam in reading, English and math.

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement convinced the company hired to develop and score the CRCT to conduct a free analysis of every answer sheet.

The company, CTB-McGraw Hill, in analyzing the standardized tests, was looking for cases in which an unusually high number of wrong answers were erased and replaced by correct answers.

Following the analysis of the test sheets, schools were placed in one of four categories based on the percentage of classrooms flagged with wrong-to-right changes that fell above the state average: Clear: 0%-5.4%; Minimal Concern: 5.5%- 10.4%; Moderate Concern: 10.5%- 24.4%; and Severe Concern: 24.5% or more.

“We will not allow this to be whitewashed,” Perdue stated last week.

However, some testing experts, while praising the state’s actions last week, said the state may have a problem going forward with the investigations.

While the state is insisting on rigorous investigations, due to the state’s lack of resources, the investigations will be handled by the school districts themselves, even in districts where the state found multiple schools with questionable erasures in 25 percent or more of classrooms.

“There’s really no strong incentive for the locals to do a searching investigation,” Gregory Cizek, of the University of North Carolina stated in a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. “It really would be best for everybody if the state was able to assign some independent agency to look into this.”

Gary Walker, the director of educator ethics at the state Professional Standards Commission, which licenses educators, said superintendents were calling looking for suggestions on how to best investigate their schools, adding that they are being advised to hire outside experts.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox has denied the results represented a systemic problem or a breakdown in training and procedures.

“Nobody’s getting accused of anything at this point,” she stated in the AJC article.

How area schools fared in CRCT analysis

Dougherty County
Alice Coachman, 31.70%
Martin Luther, 45.60%
Morningside Elementary, 31.60%
New Jackson Heights, 57.90%
Northside Elementary, 52.20%
Sherwood Acre, 25.00%
Turner Elementary, 39.40%
West Town Elementary, 77.20%
Quitman County

Quitman Co. Elem/Middle, 42.40%
Early County
Early Co. Elementary, 2.00%
Early Co. Middle, 2.40%
Baker County
Baker County, 11.10%
Calhoun County

Calhoun Co. Elementary, 10.40%
Calhoun Co. Middle, 4.20%

Clay County
Clay Co. Elementary, 5.60%
Clay Co. Middle, 8.30%

Miller County
Miller Co. Elementary, 2.10%
Miller Co. Middle, 0.00%

Randolph County
Randolph Co. Elementary, 6.90%
Randolph Co. Middle, 6.30%

Seminole County
Seminole Co. Elementary, 6.10%
Seminole Co. Middle, 2.60%

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