Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Schools Raise Few Red Flags In Cheating Investigation

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has identified suspicious test scores at nearly 200 school districts.

Florida schools do not have patterns of suspicious test results that have plagued schools in Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis and elsewhere, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of testing data from 69,000 schools in 49 states.

Only one county, Gadsden in the Panhandle, had more than 10 percent of schools show unusual gains or losses from the previous year’s score — and only for one year. That’s a far cry from Atlanta or St. Louis-area schools that had as many as one-quarter of all schools post suspicious gains or losses on standardized tests.

The investigation sprang from a cheating scandal in Atlanta public school that eventually cost superintendent Beverly Hall her job.

In all, nearly 200 school districts had enough suspicious tests that the probability of the scores happening — without any cheating — was on in 1,000. Inn 33 districts those odds were one in one million.

Critics of standardized testing worry cheating many increase as many states — including Florida — put more significance into those test scores.

Florida and other states are also beginning to pay teachers, in part, base on how well their students score on tests. Half of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores, though those scores are averaged over several years.

Check out the full package of stories here. The AJC offers plenty to chew on.


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