Fewer Georgia schools flagged for answer changes on standardized tests



With guilty pleas from the test cheating scandal still rolling in, a new report suggests cheating is on the wane.

The number of Georgia schools flagged for having classes with a suspiciously high number of wrong-to-right answer changes on the 2013 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test continues to fall, according to a report released today by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

GOSA flagged 121 schools that had classes with a suspiciously high number of erasures where a student changed a wrong answer to a right one on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, which is administered each year to third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students in a variety of subjects.

In 2009, when GOSA began analyzing erasures in the wake of the test cheating scandal that erupted in the Atlanta Public School system, 369 schools had classes flagged.

The fallout from the cheating scandal is ongoing. On Monday, Millicent Few, APS’ former head of human resources, became the 19th person to plead guilty to a criminal charge in connection with the cheating case. And an APS middle school principal, Christopher Waller, is expected to enter a guilty plea on Friday.

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement studies erasures on both the CRCT and on end-of-course tests. Classrooms were flagged if they had a suspiciously high number of erasures where a student changed a wrong answer to a right one.

Its analysis groups schools into four categories.

Those schools where 5 percent or fewer classes were flagged for a suspiciously high number of wrong-to-right answer changes are deemed to be “clear of concern.”

Schools where 6-10 percent of classes were flagged are of “minimal concern,” and schools where 11-24 percent of classes were flagged are of “moderate concern.”

Schools are considered to be of “severe concern” if 25 percent or more of its classes are flagged.

State monitors will be placed in schools of severe concern during this year’s testing, and monitors will conduct random checks on schools of minimal and moderate concern.

GOSA’s analysis of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test found that:

— 98 schools in Georgia are of minimal concern, down from the 192 that received that designation in 2009, the first year the governor’s office studied erasures.

— 22 schools are of moderate concern, down from 103 in 2009.

— a single school, Woodstation Elementary in Catoosa County, is of severe concern. There were 74 schools of severe concern in 2009.

The Catoosa County school system is conducting a thorough investigation.

Superintendent Denia Reese said, “We are working with GOSA and following their guidelines to investigate the situation. The initial investigation has determined that Woodstation submitted all their testing data under the testing coordinator’s name instead of individual teachers. GOSA has acknowledged that this could be the reason for the irregularity.”

Reese added: “We will continue to investigate the situation until all concerns are cleared. We will also change our testing protocols so that student data is entered in the name of the person who administered the test.”

APS, the epicenter of the cheating scandal, had nine schools of minimal concern and three schools — Charles R. Drew Charter, Cleveland Elementary and Towns Elementary — deemed to be of moderate concern.

In 2009, 66 APS schools were flagged, with 44 of them being of severe concern, 15 being of moderate concern and seven being of minimal concern.

The 2013 report showed Cherokee with two schools of minimal concern. Clayton had one, Lee Street Elementary, designated as being of moderate concern and another of minimal concern. Cobb had 10 schools of minimal concern and another, Addison Elementary, of moderate concern.

DeKalb had seven schools of minimal concern and three — Panola Way Elementary, Indian Creek Elementary and Chestnut Elementary — of moderate concern.

Fulton had seven schools of minimal concern, and Gwinnett had 10. Two Gwinnett schools, Fort Daniel Elementary and Simpson Elementary, are of moderate concern.

GOSA’s end-of-course test analysis covered tests administered in winter 2012 and spring 2013 and found few wrong-to-right erasures.

On the winter 2012 tests, GOSA found that 81.8 percent of schools did not have any classes flagged in any subject. Its spring 2013 review found that 73 percent of schools had no classes flagged.

“There’s a lot of attention being paid to this, but I don’t think we’ll ever get to a place where it’s perfect,” GOSA Executive Director Martha Ann Todd said.


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